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change on the horizon for the UK waste frameworks

4th October 2013

As a producer compliance scheme for packaging waste, WEEE and waste batteries, Comply Direct see it as our prerogative to communicate and report on issues which affect the waste regulation and waste management industries. Of late, a number of waste related directives have been under consultation and review at both EU and national levels. We take a look at some of the changing legislations and processes which could affect you as an obligated producer.

Packaging (essential requirements) regulations

The Essential Requirements Regulations are a UK legislation which influence packaging design and are separate to (although as significant as) the Packaging Waste Regulations. Enforcement of the regulations has until now been difficult for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) as the guidance on the restrictions of the de-minimus amount of packaging for purpose has not always been clear. An updated guidance document has been released by the BIS to address the complexities and to offer more specific guidance for packaging manufacturers and producers as to whether a product has been over packaged or has an illegal heavy metal content. The summarised scope of the Essential Requirements are:

i. “Packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer

ii. Packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements

iii. Noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill”

Trading Standards (or the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment in NI) now have a clearer framework to enforce the Essential Requirements for Packaging and businesses which have an obligation under the regulations include businesses that: place products in packaging, import a packaged product or place a packaged product in their own brand onto the market.

For more information on how the Essential Requirements for Packaging Regulations affect you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Comply Direct's packaging team. 

Edoc - “The future of Waste Transfer Notes”

The UK’s waste industry is littered with the irony of tonnes of wasteful paperwork, even the government admits it. As a part of the ‘red tape challenge’ Defra and SEPA have supported the edoc project – a software solution developed by a collaboration of resources and support between the European Commission’s LIFE+ programme, the Environment Agency, WRAP, CIWM, NIEA, Reconomy and the Welsh Assembly.

“Edoc is a free online system which will transform the way that waste transfers are recorded and save you time, effort and ultimately money.”www.edoconline.co.uk

The edoc system will replace the 23 million Waste Transfer Notes (WTN) that are filled out manually in the UK every year by businesses whenever the need to dispose of commercial waste or transfer the waste to a contracted facility or reprocessor. The online facility will remove the need for paper records and filing space and allow for quick and easy submission, reducing the burden of recording and reporting on waste transfer activity in the UK. The system should both ease the reporting process for the producer and improve the data collection process for Defra.

For more information on waste management and how edoc can benefit you, please get in touch with the Comply Direct team.

Waste directives under review by the EU

The Waste Framework Directive, the Landfill Directive and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive are to be considered for review by the European Commission in an effort to cut red tape and reduce the administrative burden on businesses operating within the EU. REFIT (the European Commission’s Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme) is the review which comes as a response to the Eurobarometer survey which suggested that 74% of Europeans thought there was too much red tape in EU legislations.

Under REFIT, in 2014 the European Commission will run a series of ‘fitness checks’ on their waste policies and those dealing with batteries and vehicle end of life to determine whether the current frameworks are still fit for purpose. Launched on October 2nd REFIT fitness checks will assist current pending proposals, evaluate the Renewable Energy Directive and health and safety in the workplace policies ‘to make EU law lighter and simple.’

A workshop is planned in early 2014 to discuss concerns regarding current EU waste legislation and its effect on businesses after the result of a consultation with SMEs earlier this year found that the transfer and treatment of waste was the most burdensome area of legislation. Comply Direct will keep members up to date with internal communications if the EU reviews result in changes to compliance or waste management legislations but we will continue to report on the issues in our Newsfeed.  

Scrap metal industry gets legislative overhaul 

On October the 1st the scrap metals industry saw a landmark change to its regulation as the first new legislation for 50 years was introduced to provider tighter licensing for scrap metal dealers. The Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act 2013 replaces the 1964 Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act in England and Wales and means that all site-based and mobile dealers and motor salvage operators must obtain a license from their local authority to continue operating legally and avoid prosecution. Local authorities will also be required to perform background checks for all applicants before issuing licences.

Scrap metal collection is worth £5.6 billion to the UK economy but recent metal theft cases have raised concerns about how easy it is to sell on stolen metals. Copper and lead have been in high demand for criminals due to their scrap value. In a bid to clamp down on back hand sales the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPRO) Act now also enforces payment for the transfer of metals by any method other than by crossed cheque or electronic money transfer as an offence. The acts are expected to have a positive impact on the image of an industry which offers innovative alternatives to the treatment of waste metals and may standardise high quality collections and establish UK scrap metal as a more valuable asset in the international market.

British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) director general, Ian Hetherington said of the new laws: "The industry has led the way in developing sophisticated materials recycling processes and continues to do so by diverting waste metal away from landfill. The implementation of the new Scrap Metal Dealers' Act is a watershed moment for the industry; it's an opportunity to rid the industry of the 'Steptoe and Son' stereotype once and for all."

For more information about how new legislation can sometimes affect the price of Packaging PRNs or for any other enquiries relating to this article please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Packaging Compliance Team who will be more than happy to answer any questions.