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Louise Grantham to be WEEE Europe director

The compliance scheme said she would be one of six supervisory board members that support WEEE Europe chief executive Christian Ludwig. Others are from not-for-profit compliance schemes based in France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. WEEE Europe has the role of providing a Europe-wide compliance service for producers and has 19 partnerships across 30 countries. It also covers battery compliance. Grantham (pictured) said: “Through WEEE Europe, Repic is able to add further value to producers by offering a truly European approach to WEEE and battery compliance. “Many producers are faced with the need to understand their WEEE and battery compliance obligations in multiple European countries. WEEE Europe provides them with a streamlined approach to this, including a declaration platform that simplifies their reporting.” She said she looked forward to contributing to further services, including a new one for packaging compliance. Orginal Source

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Environment Agency achieves ‘huge amount’ in 2019-20

The Environment Agency confirmed in its annual report for the 2019/20 financial year that it cut the number of ‘high risk’ illegal waste sites from 260 to 233, the lowest total of such sites since 2013-14. However, it is more than the target of 196 the Agency had hoped to meet by the end of the financial year. The total number of illegal waste sites fell to its lowest since 2016-17, from 691 at the end of 2018-19 to 536. The Agency keeps a database of known illegal waste sites, of which it has become aware through investigations, reports or other means. The figures, which cover 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, were published by the Agency in its annual report on 15 December, having been first reported on by letsrecycle.com in September (see letsrecycle.com story). The year was about much more than responding to incidents that threaten people or the environment,” the Agency’s chief executive James Bevan writes in the report. “Our job is to create a better place, and we have done that too.” He added: “No organisation is perfect, and we must always strive to improve. But we have achieved a huge amount over the last year. “There is a single reason for that: the skill, professionalism and commitment of the 10,000 Environment Agency staff who work around the country, day in day out, for the people and places we serve.” Waste crime The Agency says it continues to stop more than 50% of ‘all’ new illegal waste sites in 90 days or less. It made 59 successful waste crime prosecutions in 2019-20, the Agency says. This resulted in five prison sentences, 11 suspended sentences and total fines of more than £530,000. In January 2020 the Joint Unit for Waste Crime (JUWC) was launched, a new taskforce dedicated to tackling serious and organised waste crime (see letsrecycle.com story). The JUWC brings together law enforcement agencies, environmental regulators, HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency in the war against waste crime. And, the Agency said it was continuing to work with police and enforcement agencies to eradicate modern-day slavery from the waste and recycling industry. Figures from the anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice show that two-thirds of the victims they work with are reported to have worked in the waste industry. Illegal shipments In terms of financial liabilities, the Agency says there is a case where waste has been illegally shipped from the United Kingdom and, as the competent authority, the Agency is responsible for its repatriation. The initial estimate of the cost is in the region of £750,000 However, the Agency says there is uncertainty over whether payment is necessary as it has not been able to travel to the country in question and intend for the notifier to return the waste at their own cost. The Agency expects this case to be resolved during 2020-21. Orginal Source

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CIWM rebukes sector over Covid information

The waste sector faces a challenge in delivering services especially over the Christmas period with a compounding of some of the existing challenges relating to the pandemic, the CIWM has warned. And, the CIWM has called for stakeholders to “understand their responsibilities” after revealing that the Environment Agency changed its approach on discussion of the easing of regulations because of reported ‘inappropriate’ behaviour. The comments come in a CIWM report on the waste sector’s response to Covid-19, from March to October 2020. On current service challenges, it cautions that: “The sector is not facing the same uncertainties experienced early on in the pandemic but is likely to experience a compounding of some of the existing challenges – especially over the Christmas period.” Practical Trevor Nicoll, president of the CIWM (Chartered Institution of Wastes Management) commented that “reading the report, I am struck by the array of practical and operational measures that were developed and deployed to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.” Mr Nicoll added: “The real highlight for me, however, is how people working across the sector have responded. From stories about collection crews going the extra mile to maintain vital and valued services to collaborative cross-sectoral working and information sharing at the highest strategic level to monitor sector resilience and inform contingency planning, there has been a collective will to overcome the challenges that Covid-19 has presented.” Rebuke Despite Mr Nicoll’s warm words for the sector, there is a stern rebuke for one or more stakeholders in the report, which was compiled by CIWM with Exeter University. The actual stakeholders involved are not specifically named but there is a clear suggestion by the Institution that some acted irresponsibly over cross-sectoral issues It says that there were reported “inappropriate” uses of information about Environment Agency Regulatory Position Statements and easements and so the Environment Agency abandoned this level of consultation. The Institution adds: “This underlines the need for sector stakeholders to understand their responsibilities when engaging with governments and government agencies in live contingency planning situations and the importance of setting out and working to common, agreed priorities and protocols in the future”. Supply chain Other findings in the report are that “the long-term effects on the different parts of the sector are not yet clear and many participants felt that the pandemic has served to highlight the critical interdependencies and vulnerabilities in the supply chain that will require further attention in the context of future sector resilience.” Government The report also finds that “The proliferation of official government guidance was identified as a source of confusion and uncertainty, particularly during the early part of the pandemic before some consolidation took place. This was particularly highlighted in relation to variations in approach to national and local restrictions and business ‘re-opening’ measures that emerged after the first UK-wide lockdown was lifted. This was true both in operational terms for those working across different boundaries and borders, and for sector bodies seeking to provide consolidated, up-to-date information to support the sector.” WISH Forum The work of the WISH Forum (Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum) was also highlighted by the report and described as “pivotal to the sector’s pandemic response”. The report explains that “The WISH Forum Information Document sought to provide assurances and clarify misconceptions or confusions as they arose. The guidance focused on providing clear information about working practices, and provided examples of good practice which could be immediately implemented and adapted for use in the workplace.” Orginal Source

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NLWA urges switch to reusable facemasks

To tackle the problem, the NLWA launched a campaign today (15 December) to encourage the nation to switch to reusable facemasks. NLWA chair Councillor Clyde Loakes said: “The progress we’ve all made in reducing our reliance on single-use plastics is at risk of being undone during the pandemic, and disposable facemasks are a major culprit. “They are not made of paper, they are not recyclable and whether they are binned or littered they will damage the environment. “Today we are urging people to keep doing their bit to help tackle the climate emergency by switching to reusable masks, which offer just as much protection as disposables.” To support the campaign to promote reusable options, the NLWA is working with not-for-profit social enterprise Fashion Enter to create more than 1,000 reusable facemasks. These will be distributed in the run up to Christmas via food banks and other support services across north London. In November, the recycling minister Rebecca Pow backed the use of reusable face coverings, away from healthcare and PPE uses, to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 (see letsrecycle.com story). Contamination The NLWA’s poll also found that nearly one in five people (18%) wrongly thinks disposable masks should go in the recycling bin, which is resulting in increased contamination issues at recycling facilities. Steve Oulds, national commercial manager at Biffa Waste Services, said: “Contamination is one of the biggest challenges we face, and we are now seeing many disposable facemasks coming through our facility every day. “Where facemasks are found in the load, it can result in the entire load being rejected and losing otherwise perfectly good recyclables.” Orginal Source

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Modulated fees research project launched

The project is backed by the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It will look at how producers’ fees for packaging could be used to “financially incentivise greater use of recyclable packaging”, and what higher charges could apply to producers who do not use recyclable packaging. There will be a focus on “modulated fees” – costs linked to the different types of packaging and their complexity. In a statement, the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said they will help design the options, and the future EPR Scheme Administrator “may decide to adopt them when it is appointed in due course”. The work comes as the government comes under pressure in terms of preparing for the new system which is scheduled for 2023 but is very dependent on securing good data to establish the payout criteria for local authorities. Full costs The project will aim to develop an “off the shelf” solution for a system of EPR modulated fees by July 2021. Modulated fees will be a core part of the new system which will see producers pay councils the full costs of the collection and recycling of packaging waste unlike the current PRN system which is estimated to cover about 10% of the costs. Modulated fees will link in to payments for the recycling of materials because more complex products are likely to cost more to recycle and perhaps also to collect. Consequently, it is expected that if fees are higher for packaging products which are more costly to recycle, this will encourage producers to change the packaging to reduce costs. Resources charity, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is supporting the partners over the course of the project “with capacity and expertise, and to help organise extensive stakeholder engagement over the three phases of the project”. ‘Key reforms’ Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “We must boost our recycling performance and one of the vital ways to do that is through Extended Producer Responsibility. This is one of the key waste reforms within our landmark Environment Bill, which will ensure that we continue to go further and faster to recycle more of our waste and reduce the resources that we use. “This UK-wide project is an important step in delivering a world-leading system, and I welcome this new joined-up initiative between the UK government, devolved administrations and the UK packaging sector.” Stages The seven project partners will take forward three key phases of work with packaging stakeholders, with the first two completed by April 2021. Orginal Source

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94% of Brits want more on-the-go recycling points

That’s the findings of a recent consumer research survey, conducted by the LUCID polling agency in association with Every Can Counts. While 89% of UK respondents said that they recycle drinks packaging when at home, this number drops to just 41% when out and about. 89% admit that they face numerous problems recycling on-the-go – listing a lack of infrastructure (58%) and overflowing bins (22%) as the key barriers. When it comes to large gatherings, such as sporting events and festivals, 94% of UK respondents believed recycling provisions were currently ‘sub-par’. While it’s hugely positive news to hear that the general public are committed to recycling at home, a perceived lack of sufficient infrastructure in public spaces is proving seemingly damaging to national packaging recycling rates. What’s more, a resounding 92% suggested that these events should only use recyclable drink containers. Rick Hindley, director of Every Can Counts, commented: “While it’s hugely positive news to hear that the general public are committed to recycling at home, a perceived lack of sufficient infrastructure in public spaces is proving seemingly damaging to national packaging recycling rates. “More than 90% of people in the UK believe that it is more important to recycle now than ever before, yet the barrier of inadequate infrastructure is proving a clear obstacle. Alongside investing in more on-the-go recycling points, we need to ensure that packaging is quick and easy to recycle. “Aluminium drink cans are the perfect example. Made from a completely circular, highly- valuable, single-source material, they can be recycled an infinite number of times. These qualities are the reason why drink cans are both widely and easily recycled; attributes which in turn make recycling easier for everyone.” Drinks can recycling Since 2009, Every Can Counts has worked to increase awareness about recycling drink cans, with the vision of realising 100% drink can recycling rates across Europe. While almost 75% of drink cans are currently recycled in Europe, only 70% of people could identify them as infinitely recyclable. Hindley continued: “Ensuring the public understands the importance and value of recycling is imperative. While improving infrastructure is essential, we need people to know exactly why they should recycle – whether at home or on-the-go.” Elsewhere in the survey, 93% of UK respondents considered recycling to be everyone’s responsibility. What’s more, while 73% stated that they had recycled more than ever during the pandemic, 82% felt that more needed to be done in general to encourage people to recycle. Orginal Source