From 1st January 2015 the EU Waste Framework Directive requires all Member States to implement measures to achieve high quality recycling. This includes ensuring four specific waste streams are collected separately from other waste; paper/card, metals, glass and plastic. It is the legal responsibility of the collector to ensure this for both household and commercial waste. Under the EU regulations the following legislation has been amended and will be enforced across England and Wales by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.
Necessary measures must be taken to ensure that waste undergoes recovery operations in accordance with the waste hierarchy and the protection of human health and the environment. Unlike Scotland, England and Wales have included a requirement for separate collections to be made only where it is Technically, Environmentally and Economically Practicable (TEEP). This means, for example, if a business produces a minute amount of plastic, in relation to the other waste streams, it would not be economically or even environmentally viable to set up a separate collection.
It is important to remember that the aim of the new legislation is to achieve high quality recycling. If the introduction of a separate collection system is not necessary to achieve this, then this is not an action that needs to be taken. Many Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) are already equipped to deal with comingled waste. However, the capabilities of these facilities vary and so an understanding of whether materials need to be separated will be required on an individual basis. Nevertheless, legislation such as this is always a step in the right direction and will undoubtedly improve recycling rates.
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