Two articles – one on Defra’s ‘business led’ approach to resource efficiency whilst at the same time signalling it will plays it’s part in negotiating EU proposals on the circular economy. Hmm … perhaps this is going to be like the business led approach to plastic bags …. and air quality. Terry A’Hearn SEPAs new CEO outlined the importance of CE in his thinking some months ago and the water industry has much to gain viewing organics and phosphate as resources. 

Defra backs ‘business-led’ approach to resource efficiency 

Let’s recycle ‘Resources and waste minister Thérèse Coffey has expressed an ambition for the UK to become ‘one of the most resource efficient countries in the world’ – but has claimed that government ‘won’t regulate to force this change’.

The minister’s comments were expressed to delegates at an event hosted by Aldersgate Group – an environmental consortium of business leaders and politicians – launching the Group’s ‘Amplifying Action on Resource Efficiency’ in London yesterday (31 January). The speech written by the Defra minister Thérèse Coffey was delivered by Defra’s deputy director of waste and recycling Chris Preston. Dr Coffey had been due to give the keynote address to launch the report, but had to pull out of the event at the last minute. Her speech was instead delivered by Chris Preston, deputy director of waste and recycling at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) who read out the minister’s comments. Reading the pre-prepared address, Mr Preston said that the UK’s exit from the EU presented a ‘unique opportunity’ to drive up resource productivity in the UK. To read more click here

Defra preparing for adoption of Circular Economy package 

The UK will continue to play an active role in negotiations over the EU’s Circular Economy (CE) package, stakeholders were told this week (20 January) by Defra officials. Some civil servants within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs also anticipate that the UK will opt to adhere to the proposals outlined in the package after Brexit. Current plans mean that the CE proposals would be by the EU into a Directive within the next two years.

Senior industry delegates met at Defra’s Nobel House offices on Thursday. Representatives from trade bodies and major businesses within the waste and recycling sector were called to a meeting at Defra’s Nobel House head office on Thursday, to hear presentations from the Department over its approach to the ongoing negotiation over the CE package.

The package will update existing EU waste and recycling legislation including the Waste Framework, Landfill and Packaging and Packaging Waste Directives, from which much of the UK’s waste laws have stemmed. Timing of the agreement and adoption of the CE package could be crucial for the UK – which is expected to begin the formal process of its withdrawal from the European Union before the end of March. Should the proposed Circular Economy legislation pass into EU law before the UK has formally left the European Union, it is likely that the UK will need to adopt any measures agreed by the Commission, the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers. The government has also promised a Great Repeal Bill which will establish in UK law many of the existing pieces of EU Legislation.

Should the Directives referred to in UK law be altered by the EU – including those on waste – it is also thought likely by some that the UK would then have to adhere to these legal amendments, regardless of the UK’s status as an EU member.

This is understood to be the interpretation of the status of the Circular Economy package held by a number of the senior officials within Defra. And, yesterday stakeholders were informed that the Department is working under the assumption that the Circular Economy proposals will be applicable in the UK.

Proposals being pushed within the Circular Economy package include an increased recycling target of 65% by 2030 as well as plans to harmonise definitions of recycling across EU Member States. Increases in targets for packaging recycling have also been proposed.

Defra is known to be reluctant to commit to a higher recycling target, with minister Thérèse Coffey having described the 65% goal as “too high to be achievable” (see story).

However, there remains an air of uncertainty with some Brexit civil servants more sceptical about whether the CE proposals will actually be adopted in the end by the UK. Click here to read.

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