Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020—News Analysis

Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020—News Analysis

Environment analysis: The Waste (Circular Economy) Regulations 2020 are in force from 1 October 2020. This News Analysis considers the background, scope and key changes implemented through these regulations.

The Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904, are in force from 1 October 2020. These regulations transpose the EU’s 2020 Circular Economy Package (CEP) in England and Wales, and partially for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

What is the background to the Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020?

Global waste is currently projected to reach 3.4 billion tonnes annually by 2050. Waste generation causes harmful effects to humanity, wildlife and the environment. Increased waste generation depletes raw materials and pollutes land, water and air.

In 2015, the European Commission published proposals to amend six EU Waste Directives, including Directive 2008/98/EC, the Waste Framework Directive (WFD), Directive 1999/31/EC, the Landfill Directive (LFD), and Directive 94/62/EC, the Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). Known collectively as the CEP, the proposals entered into force on the 4 July 2018. The objectives of the CEP are to reduce the adverse impacts of waste generation and the overall impacts of resource use by ensuring appropriate application of the waste hierarchy, by placing restrictions on landfilling and incineration and also by changes to the arrangements affecting hazardous waste and waste oils.

The CEP introduced a revised legislative framework and established a long-term plan for waste management and recycling. For more information see Practice Note: Waste—the circular economy.

In tandem with the CEP, in 2019 the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) was published, which introduced initiatives for the life cycle of products, targeting their design, promoting circular economy processes, fostering sustainable consumption, and aiming to ensure that resources used are kept in the EU economy for as long as possible. The CEAP was published as part of the European Green Deal. For more information on the CEAP see News Analysis: New circular economy action plan published.

In August 2020 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland) jointly issued the Circular Economy Package policy statement (the Policy Statement). The Policy Statement sets out the key changes made by the CEP and the approach of the UK to transposition of the 2020 CEP measures.

The UK proposed a combination of non-legislative changes (changes to guidance) and legislative changes with a minor impact (where the implementing legislation adopts the same wording as that of the Directive), to transpose most of the requirements of the CEP. For more information on the CEP Policy Statement see News Analysis: Government publishes Circular Economy Package Policy Statement.

What is the scope of the Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020?

The Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904 implement for England and Wales, and partially for Scotland and Northern Ireland, six amending Directives in the field of waste. The amending Directives are:

  • Directive (EU) 222018/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2000/53/EC on end of life vehicles, Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment
  • Directive (EU) 2018/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste
  • Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste

  • Directive (EU) 2018/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste

  • Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2020/362 of 17 December 2019 amending Annex II to Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on end-of-life vehicles as regards the exemption for hexavalent chromium as anti-corrosion agent of the carbon steel cooling system in absorption refrigerators in motor caravans

  • Commission Delegated Directive (EU) 2020/363 of 17 December 2019 amending Annex II to Directive 2000/53/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on end-of-life vehicles as regards certain exemptions for lead and lead compounds in components

Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904, Pt 2 amends primary legislation to update references to the Waste Framework Directive in certain other legislation. Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904, Pt 3 amends secondary legislation including the Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005, SI 2005/894, the Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2011, SI 2011/988 and the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015, SI 2015/1640. Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904, reg 21 amends the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/1154, in particular to implement the amending Directives.

What are the key changes?

The key changes introduced by the Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904, include:

  • a requirement to prevent waste generation, to monitor and assess the implementation of necessary measures and to include such measures in waste prevention programmes;

  • amendments to the duty to collect waste and arrange for the collection of waste by way of separate collection, so that rather than the duty applying on fulfilment of the condition that the separate collection is ’technically, environmentally and feasibly practicable’ the duty will apply ‘unless one of the following conditions is met’:

    • collecting the waste paper, metal, plastic or glass together results in output from those operations which is of comparable quality to that achieved through separate collection
    • separate collection of the waste does not deliver the best environmental outcome when considering the overall environmental impacts of the management of the relevant waste streams
    • separate collection of the waste is not technically feasible taking into consideration good practices in waste collection
    • separate collection of the waste would entail disproportionate economic costs
  • a requirement that waste separately collected for preparing for re-use and recycling should not be landfilled or incinerated, with the exception of waste resulting from subsequent treatment operations of the separately collected waste for which incineration or landfill is the best environmental outcome in accordance with the waste hierarchy
  • changes to the regime for hazardous waste and waste oils, including minor changes to the ban on mixing of hazardous waste, additional requirements for the mixing of waste mineral and synthetic oils, changes to recording and reporting requirements for data on hazardous waste. Economic viability of separation is no longer a consideration and lawfully mixed hazardous waste must be treated at a permitted facility

  • a requirement to include further details in waste management plans

  • a requirement to include further measures in waste prevention programmes
  • a requirement for waste operations operating under a registered waste exemption to record, retain and submit specific information on hazardous waste and for sites that treat hazardous waste under an environmental permit, under existing permit conditions, to record, retain and submit this information to the relevant regulators

The UK government and the devolved administrations have previously consulted on certain measures on packaging, which meet the Resources and Waste Strategy and the Welsh Government’s Circular Economy Strategy commitment to extend producer responsibility for packaging. Changes introduced in the Waste (Circular Economy) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, SI 2020/904 are minor and consist essentially of updates to definitions.

What does this mean for the waste industry going forward?

According to sustainability consultancy, Ditto Sustainability, there hasn’t been a ‘huge fanfare’ about the introduction of the new regulations largely because many aspects of the CEP are already incorporated into the Resource and Waste Strategy and the 25 Year Environment Plan. However, those companies that are prepared to adopt and adapt to these regulatory changes are likely to be the most sustainable and are also more likely to ‘have the edge on the competition and be around for the long term’.

Those involved in the waste industry will need to familiarise themselves with the new requirements, and ensure that waste management plans are updated as necessary.

The Regulatory Triage Analysis that accompanies the regulations suggests that there may be increased administrative costs and increased costs for submitting additional information. However, with the recent focus on green finance, this could also be an opportunity for businesses to reflect on new long-term opportunities in the waste industry.

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About the author:
Andrea is a Professional Support Lawyer at LexisNexis, specialising in environmental law. She has a background in contaminated land and environmental insurance, and a Masters degree in waste management. She qualified in 1997 at Browne Jacobson and later worked in the Environment and Planning team at SJ Berwin, before moving in house to work as Senior Solicitor at Certa (UK) Ltd. More recently Andrea has worked as a legal consultant, completing projects for blue chip companies. Andrea is an active member of the UK Environmental Law Association.