Household Waste Management Strategy 2017-2027
Setting the scene
The EU Waste Framework Directive (revised 2008) obliges member states to manage waste in a way that does not have a negative impact on the environment or human health and to apply the waste hierarchy. In addition, the Waste Regulations (England and Wales) 2011, as amended in 2012, set out the requirement for local authorities to manage all waste in accordance with the principles of the waste hierarchy and identify measures for continuous improvement.
The waste hierarchy ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment. It gives top priority to preventing waste in the first place by refusing items which become waste or reducing the amount of waste we produce. When waste is created, the second priority is to prepare it for re-use, but if it has reached the end of its useful life the third priority is recycling. If waste cannot be managed in accordance with these priorities then energy should be recovered from it, and if all else fails it should be disposed of (i.e. to landfill). Departure from the hierarchy is permissible when the measures that would be required would not be reasonable in the circumstances or when departure will achieve the best overall environmental outcome in respect of that waste.
As determined by the Environmental Protection Act (1990), the responsibility for household waste management in England lies with local authorities.
Under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) unitary authorities have a statutory duty to collect household waste which includes the collection of recycling from their local authority area and are responsible for the safe disposal and treatment of household waste collected.
Section 45 of the EPA states that local authorities shall
- Arrange for the collection of household waste in its area except waste:
i. which is situated at a place which in the opinion of the authority is so isolated or inaccessible that the cost of collecting it would be unreasonably high, and
ii. as to which the authority is satisfied that adequate arrangements for its disposal have been or can reasonably be expected to be made by a person who controls the waste
- If requested by the occupier of premises in its area to collect any commercial waste from the premises, to arrange for the collection of the waste.
- No charge shall be made for the collection of household waste except in cases prescribed in regulations made by the Secretary of State; and in any of those cases the authority may recover a reasonable charge for the collection of the waste from the person who made the request.
Section 46 of the EPA states that where an authority has a duty to arrange for the collection of household waste, the authority may require the occupier to place the waste for collection in receptacles of a kind and number specified. The kind and number of the receptacles required shall be reasonable but this may include separate receptacles for waste which is to be recycled and waste which is not.
In reference to the receptacles, under section 46 of the act the authority may specify
- the size, construction and maintenance of the receptacles;
- the placing of the receptacles for the purpose of facilitating the emptying of them, and access to the receptacles for that purpose;
- the waste which may or may not be put into the receptacles and the precautions to be taken where particular substances or articles are put into them; and
- the steps to be taken by occupiers of premises to facilitate the collection of waste from the receptacles.
Section 51 of the EPA states that it is the duty of each waste disposal authority to arrange
- for the disposal of the controlled waste collected in its area by the waste collection authorities (in our case the unitary authority); and
- for places to be provided at which persons resident in its area may deposit their household waste. In providing places for residents to deposit their household waste, the council must ensure that each place is situated either within the area of the authority or so as to be reasonably accessible to persons resident in its area, is available for the deposit of waste at all reasonable times and is available for the deposit of household waste free of charge by persons resident in the area.
The EU Waste Framework Directive also recommends member states take measures to promote high quality recycling and, to this end, set up and maintain separate collections of at least the following materials from the household waste stream: paper, metal, plastic and glass to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors, but only where doing so is technically, environmentally and economically practicable ("TEEP"). This requirement has been transposed into UK waste policy through the Waste Regulations (England and Wales) 2011 as amended in 2012.
In January 2018 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published a 25 Year Environment Plan which sets out government action to help the natural world regain and retain good health. This plan sets out a wide range of ambitious proposals in order to tackle growing issues associated with waste management.
There are over thirty action points highlighted within the plan, half of which specifically relate to tackling plastic waste. Three action points relate to tackling waste food, a further two relate to reducing the amount and impact of litter and there are seven action points on recycling in general.
In December 2018 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published Our Waste, Our Resources: A Strategy for England. The strategy sets out how government proposes to preserve material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy. Resources should be kept in use for as long as possible and maximum value should be extracted from them. Products and materials should be re-used, regenerated, recycled and recovered to prolong their life.
Government also aims to minimise the damage caused to our natural environment by reducing and managing waste safely and carefully and by tackling waste crime. The strategy gives a longer-term policy direction in line with the 25 Year Environment Plan aiming to eliminate avoidable plastic waste over the lifetime of the 25 Year Environment Plan and eliminating avoidable waste of all kinds by 2050. Where existing legislation does not match government ambitions, new powers will be introduced to strengthen it.
In February 2019 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published three consultations:
- Reforming the UK packaging producer responsibility system
- Consistency in household and business recycling collections in England
- Introducing a deposit return scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
At the same time HM Treasury published a consultation on the introduction of a plastic packaging tax.
The government responses to the results of the consultations were published in July 2019. Key points are set out in the paragraphs below.
Government intends to introduce an extended producer responsibility scheme for packaging in 2023. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has now taken primary powers in the Environment Bill to enable them to implement new extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems. They will bring forward detailed proposals on the specific nature of an EPR system for packaging and associated secondary legislation for consultation in 2020. This should lead to an increased demand for recyclable materials to be used in the production of new packaging.
In respect of consistency, government will work with local authorities and other stakeholders to develop more detailed regulations and guidance to implement consistency in recycling. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs anticipate bringing forward more detailed proposals early in 2020 and implementing the necessary changes to achieve greater consistency in household and business recycling as soon as possible thereafter. The target year for measures to come into effect from is 2023. The key impacts for Wiltshire Council would be the proposal to mandate weekly collections of food waste and the consideration being given to the provision of fortnightly free of charge garden waste collections.
Government also intends to introduce a deposit return scheme in 2023. The expectation is that there will be a further consultation on the detail of the scheme in early 2020. The key impact for Wiltshire Council would be the loss of plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans and glass bottles from the collection of dry recyclable materials.
For all areas of the plastic packaging tax design, government will continue to consider which approaches will best support the objectives of the tax, are most administratively feasible and do not have a disproportionate impact on business. HM Treasury will also continue to work closely with Defra to ensure that the plastic packaging tax complements the reforms to the packaging producer responsibility regulations and proposals for consistent collection of waste in England and a potential deposit return scheme for drinks containers. The government had proposed to set out the next steps at Budget 2019. HMRC will publish a technical consultation on the detail of the tax design at a later date, and publish draft legislation for consultation in 2020.
The Environment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 15 October 2019. The bill establishes a regulatory body, the Office for Environmental Protection, to hold the government and public bodies to account and to set legally binding environmental improvement targets.
The bill aims to transform the way we manage our waste through providing powers to ensure that producers take responsibility for the waste they create, introducing a consistent approach to recycling, tackling waste crime, introducing bottle deposit return schemes and more effective litter enforcement. Powers to introduce new charges will minimise the use and impacts of single use plastics. It remains government's intention that measures come into effect in 2023.
The bill requires local authorities to collect the following recyclable household waste separately:
d) Paper and card
e) Food waste and
f) Garden waste.
In addition, recyclable household waste which is food waste should be collected at least once a week. The explanatory notes to the bill state that the circumstances in which it is not technically or economically practicable to separate waste streams, or it would have no significant environmental benefit, will be set out in statutory guidance and subject to consultation.
Wiltshire Council will continue to engage with government on the further development and subsequent consultations on these proposals. Once there is certainty on the detail of implementation the council will review and amend its household waste management strategy and services to ensure compliance with new legislation.
The UK is currently working towards a target of 50% recycling by 2020, as required by the EU Waste Framework Directive. Wiltshire Council aims to achieve 50% recycling of household waste by 2020 in accordance with this target. The EU Landfill Directive has a target for the UK to by 2020 send to landfill no more than 35% of the biodegradable municipal waste landfilled in 1995. Wiltshire Council has developed a target of landfilling less than 25% of waste collected to enable us to achieve this target locally and so be within this national target. The EU commission have adopted a range of new targets for consultation with member states including a common EU target for recycling 65% of municipal waste by 2030, a common EU target for recycling 75% of packaging waste by 2030 and a binding landfill target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10% of municipal waste by 2030.
We do not yet know whether EU targets on recycling or the circular economy would be transposed into UK policy as they are unlikely to be adopted in advance of the UK leaving the EU. As an alternative to a traditional make, use and dispose linear economy, a circular economy is much more in line with the principles of the waste hierarchy and focuses on keeping resources in use for longer to extract maximum value from them whilst in use, then to recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of life.
The core legislation which acts as the driver for sustainable waste management activities in England is derived from EU directives. These include The EU Waste Framework Directive, the EU Landfill Directive and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive. These directives have been transposed into UK law and informed UK waste policy which has been updated to reflect the requirements on member states within these directives. Should the UK decide not to adopt future EU targets into UK law, the UK must review waste policy and set objectives accordingly. Timescales are unknown for this work.
The government's Resources and Waste Strategy is a key element in the government's environmental policy following the publication of the 25 year Environment Plan and the Clean Growth strategy. The Environment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 15 October 2019 which confirmed government's commitment to introducing a series of measures following the public consultations carried out earlier in 2019.
The council's future annual performance reports and action plans will reflect any changes in legislation which the council needs to plan to comply with.
The council will endeavour to meet residents' expectations and requirements while aiming to achieve the goals set out in the council's business plan within the resources available. In addition, we must work collaboratively with other council departments to meet a wider range of aims and objectives set out within the council's business plan. A key area will be making the most efficient and effective use of the council's digital platforms for communication with our residents.
The waste management strategy needs to reflect the wider priorities of the council including growing the economy, developing stronger communities and protecting the vulnerable.
Residents' expectations reflect their knowledge of new products, services and waste streams. In addition, overall demand on waste management services will increase as the population and housing stock grows. Over time, an ageing population may increase demand for assisted waste and recycling collection services and clinical waste collection services.
The council faces ongoing financial pressure. The substantial funding challenge will almost certainly continue into the near future and for the term of this strategy. The targets and actions agreed therefore must be affordable and reflect the need to make optimum use of the financial resources available.
In addition to the increasing service demand outlined above, future landfill tax rates beyond 2020 are not yet known. The landfill tax element of the costs of disposing of waste to landfill will increase until 2020 even if the tonnage of waste disposed of to landfill remains constant.
These demands reinforce the need for a strategy highlighting the waste management approach to dealing with these pressures, whilst ensuring we do not compromise performance against statutory targets and business plan goals.
Wiltshire Council's budget has been reduced and the number of households in Wiltshire has risen and will continue to rise. Projected future housing delivery is detailed in the council's Local Plan Core Strategy. This directly impacts on the amount of waste produced in Wiltshire and the demand on the council's waste services.
There is increasing media coverage of the impact of waste on the environment, which is reflected in resident's knowledge and awareness of the issues we are seeking to address.
The social message regarding the importance of recycling is clearly informing residents' behaviour which shows in our current recycling performance and residents' attitudes and opinions expressed in response to the council's consultation carried out in 2017-18. We therefore have evidence that the majority of our residents would welcome a strategy for Wiltshire which would see all household waste managed in accordance with the hierarchy and diverted from landfill.
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