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Sweeping changes to household recycling laws rejected by Cardiff Judge

March 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm

A Cardiff judge has rejected a legal motion to overhaul radically the way councils collect household waste in Britain. The move, lodged by seven different recycling firms and backed by green lobbyists such as Friends of the Earth, would have demanded that waste be collected in a minimum of five different bins. Metal, glass and plastic would have needed to be separated individually along with non-recyclable waste, garden refuse and organic matter.

The Campaigners for Real Recycling maintain that the complex rules are needed to meet the new EU Waste Framework Directive which came into operation in 2010. However Mr Justice Hickinbottom ruled at Cardiff’s High Court that UK councils are free to decide how to organise their own recycling schemes.

After the judgement was made public, DEFRA went on record to say, “This ruling shows our interpretation of the Waste Framework Directive is right.” However they recently conceded that a high proportion of household waste goes into landfill as it is too contaminated to be processed by recycling plants.

Currently, four out of ten UK households are required to separate waste into four different bins separating metal, plastic, paper and glass. The Brussels directive states that “waste shall be collected separately if technically, environmentally and economically practicable, and shall not be mixed with other waste or other material with different properties”. The subsequent ruling means that the decision on how to collect waste remains at a local level and conforms to EU rules as long as waste can be collected in a usable state. Mr Justice Hickinbottom maintained that his decision was made in order to reflect the differing circumstances present in communities across the nation.

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