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March 10, 2014, 09:18 AM

UK government's own advice to business is not lawful on reuse

By Thornton Kay

London West, UK - The Waste Regulations 2011 were enacted so that the UK complied with the 2008 EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD). The Waste Regulations embody in law the waste hierarchy which states that anything which a person or business wishes to discard (and which is reusable and for which there is a demand) must as a legal priority be 'prepared for reuse', or if it cannot be reused, then it must be recycled, or turned into energy, or as a last resort landfilled.

Before the Waste Regs were created the UK Environment Protection Act required disposers of unwanted materials to apply a 'duty of care' to reuse, recycle, or turn into energy without a hierarchy. So burning 200 year old first growth pine floorboards in a waste to energy power plant was considered as valid as reusing them, under the law. The EU changed that in 2008. The WFD, an important piece of legislation for the UK salvage trade, was steered through the EU parliament by Caroline Jackson, an English conservative MEP.

On its 'Business and commercial waste' web pages, the government still gives the old 'duty of care' advice without mention of the UK Waste Regs and the new legal requirement of implementing the waste hierarchy.

Salvo has asked the government to update the advice offered, so that the all-important 'Reuse before recycling' principle is applied.

The term 'preparing for reuse' seems slightly quaint. Why not simple require that things 'must be reused'. Legislators believed that the law could only state that reusable items must be directed along the reuse path, but it could not require that an item 'must be reused' because whether or not it is finally reused is usually somewhere downstream and several transactions away for the initial disposer, and out of his or her control. Of course, the same is true of recycling, and it would have been clearer had the law stated 'preparing for recycling' rather than 'must be recycled'.

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Salvo campaigns for reuse as a planning condition

Gov UK: Business and commercial waste: 2. Duty of care

Story Type:  Opinion

ID: 81209

Date Modified: March 13, 2014, 06:28 PM

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