Today’s outcome to the waste collection Judicial Review through Mr Justice Hickinbottom broadly supports the Defra and Welsh Government position that co-mingled recycling collections can, and do, meet the requirements of the revised European Waste Framework Directive (WFD).
The claimants had argued that Defra and the Welsh Government had not fully integrated the WFD in the waste regulations for England and Wales, and it was alleged that co-mingled collections were unable to produce a high quality recyclate.
The decision confirms that separated collection of paper, glass, plastics and paper from 2025 is only required to the extent that it is necessary to ensure that waste is properly recovered and where it is also technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP).
CIWM president John Skidmore, speaking from the CIWM Cymru Conference 2013, said: "Common sense has prevailed in today’s decision, but our industry’s ability to deliver secondary resources at a quality demanded by our customers, remains one of our biggest and most urgent challenges. Now we can concentrate on putting our shoulder behind the MRF Codes of Practice and Quality Action Plans. "CIWM will require much input from our members so that we can influence the best possible outcome. A quality management scheme good enough to deliver valuable and reliable secondary materials to the market is required, as is an industry strong enough to make it work. We need to use today’s decision as a springboard for action and not an armchair to sit back and relax in." CIWM chief executive Steve Lee said: "This case has been useful in highlighting the issue of quality recycling and bringing it to the top of the agenda. CIWM has always maintained there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that the decision regarding the best way to collect recyclables should rest with the local authorities who provide the services. The decision also brings a welcome end to a period of uncertainty for local authorities."
Justice Hickinbottom also confirmed that he saw no justification for referring the decision to the European court, and it is expected that most interested parties will want to take time to fully analyse and digest the decision.