Consultation on the proposed Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (Amendment) Regulations 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Consultation on the proposed Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (Amendment) Regulations 2013 

Introduction 

The Resource Association is pleased to be able to respond to Defra’s consultation on the proposed Transfrontier Shipment of Waste (Amendment) regulations and thanks Defra for this opportunity. 

The Resource Association was formally launched in November 2011 as a trade association for the reprocessing and recycling industries, supported by the wider supply chain. Our vision is for a UK resource efficient materials economy for the 21st century which realises value, prizes quality and seeks to maintain the integrity of the secondary materials which are still too commonly treated as waste. 

Today, we have 26 members representing a broad spread of major reprocessors with UK operations, local authority waste partnerships representing over 30 councils and a range of major brands, collection companies, and equipment and service suppliers in the recycling supply chain. Our members activities in recycling and reprocessing and related economic activity account for over 7 million tonnes of material recovered and recycled, at least 7,000 jobs in the UK economy and a contribution to UK GDP of over £2.7 bn. A full list of our Members is appended as Annex 1. 

Overview of our position 

The Resource Association supports all efforts by Government and its environmental regulators in the UK to improve enforcement and control of the waste exports regime. This is essential and in our view must be linked to wider efforts to regulate and improve the quality of recyclate generated in the UK for use at home and for legal compliant export. Work on both levels is essential to improve public and industry confidence in the recycling supply chain and generate a healthy, sustainable recycling industry that utilises quality materials in UK manufacturing as well as correctly export recyclate as an integral part of global materials commodity trading. 

We have recently submitted views to Defra’s consultation1 on draft MRF Regulations, designed to tackle recyclate quality generated from MRF operations. In that submission, we draw attention to the need for greater enforcement efforts on waste exports and the beneficial effect this will have for UK reprocessors in terms of driving up quality and ensuring exported recyclate meets legal standards. 

Presently, our members in the paper and plastics sectors do not agree that the quality of recovered materials leaving the majority of MRFs in the UK (using co-mingled inputs which include paper and plastic waste) has improved significantly and MRF recovered paper and plastics outputs are not delivering high quality recycling. We believe that significant quantities of poor quality recovered paper and plastics is being exported as green list waste and the current Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations are failing to prevent or deter this. This in turn is having a detrimental effect on UK reprocessors and on the UKs international standing as problems are encountered in destination countries. 

We support this review of the UK Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations as an important opportunity to strengthen the current enforcement systems and the proposals within this consultation go some way to supporting this. In this respect we support the proposals within the consultation. We know that many others in the wider waste and resources industry echo our concerns about illegal exports of waste as recyclate and we will support all efforts to unite the mainstream of our industry in dealing with the elements of the business that run the risk of causing serious reputational damage to legitimate companies. We expect Government to offer mutual support in this regard. 

Responses to consultation questions 

Question 1: Do you agree with the proposal that will enable HMRC to disclose relevant export data to UK CAs to help combat illegal waste exports? If not, why not? 

The Resource Association agrees with this proposal as a tool to detect the extent of illegal exports and support the Regulators in their enforcement role. 

Question 2: Do you agree with the proposal to change the CA to the Environment Agency for the transit of waste in the UK? If not, why not? 

The Resource Association agrees with this proposal. 

Question 3: Do you agree with the proposal to change the CA for the shipment of waste in the marine area? If not, why not? 

The Resource Association agrees with this proposal. We remain concerned that illegal shipments are sent overseas for manual sorting in poor working conditions and to facilities that are not ‘broadly equivalent’ to those in the UK as required by the WSR. We support transfer of responsibilities to DECC in this area provided that they receive specialist training to address this issue. 

More broadly, we consider that greater transparency in the reporting of end destination of recyclate and a drive by local authorities to ensure their contractors provide such information (as we set out in our End Destination of Recycling Charter) would also support the objective of ensuring that recycling is carried out in ‘broadly equivalent’ facilities. Although not in the remit of this consultation, we suggest that Defra look again at this issue and consider how end destination reporting might be strengthened in England. 

Question 4: Do you agree with the proposal that DECC will be involved with inspections and evidence gathering for offshore installations for the purposes of supporting the UK CAs enforcing the WSR and the 2007 Regulations? If not, how might inspections of offshore installations be carried out and evidence gathered? 

The Resource Association agrees with this proposal, and considers this to be a pragmatic solution to the identified problem of inspecting offshore installations. As in Question 3, we remain concerned that illegal shipments are sent overseas for manual sorting in poor working conditions and to facilities that are not ‘broadly equivalent’ to those in the UK as required by the WSR. We support transfer of responsibilities to DECC in this area provided that they receive specialist training to address this issue. 

Question 5: Do you have any information on the impacts that this proposal would result in for the offshore renewable energy sector? If so, can you explain: 

5a: the types and quantities of wastes generated by the sector 

5b: if any waste is likely to be exported outside the UK mainland for recycling, treatment or disposal. If so, how much? 

The Resource Association has no comment on this proposal. 

Question 6: Do you agree with the proposal that BF can stop and detain suspect shipments themselves? If not, why not? What (if any) do you consider will be the impacts of this proposal on your business? 

The Resource Association strongly supports this proposal as a tool to support the Regulators in their enforcement role. The illegal export of badly sorted waste is financially lucrative and has grown as a result of the EA’s enforcement resources being unable to keep pace with the huge physical growth in waste exports. In effect, this has become a mechanism for Landfill Tax avoidance in some quarters and requires greater attention from HM Treasury as well as the regulator. 

Question 7: Do you agree with the proposal to change the fees payable for the import and export of waste into and from Northern Ireland, and with the level of fee proposed? If not, why not? 

The Resource Association agrees with this proposal, especially as there has been no change to the fees since 2005. We note the proposed levels originate from a review conducted by the DOENI in May 2012. In view of the absence of detail associated with the results of this review, it is difficult to offer any meaningful comment on the proposed levels. We would suggest a more transparent approach to the provision of information should be adopted when consulting on the levels of fees proposed to be levied. A more transparent review of the fees, including the fundamentals upon which fess are applied, should be undertaken within a reasonable timescale to ensure the levels reflect prevailing circumstances. 

Question 8: What is your view on a future amendment to the Regulations to require the submission of Annex VII forms to NRBW? What impact do you consider this will have on your business? 

The Resource Association would support any such amendment. Although we believe this may increase the administration requirements for green list recyclables leaving Wales, we do not see this as excessive given the fact that Annex VII documents are required to be filled in anyway. 

This would bring Wales into line with England and Northern Ireland. It inevitably begs the question why such a regime is not being proposed for England? Both SEPA and NIEA note that the forms provide data required for monitoring TFS as well as informing policy decisions, and so in line with our broad advocacy for greater transparency alongside robust enforcement, we would support a future amendment for Wales and support the inclusion of English exports within the proposal. 

Question 9: Are the costs and benefits in the partial Impact Assessment an accurate reflection of the likely impacts upon stakeholders resulting from all the proposed changes? If not, please explain and provide evidence for why you think costs and benefits might be different. 

The Resource Association sees no significant inaccuracies in the partial impact assessment as presented alongside this consultation. It is important however, that government takes a holistic view of costs and benefits. Illegal exports distort domestic markets and result in fewer jobs and lower investment. We believe that robust enforcement of the WSR is a vital measure in supporting Defra’s policies regarding recyclate quality and the green economy. The other measures are of course, the proposed MRF Regulations (which should provide the EA with valuable intelligence) and the review of the Producer Responsibility regulations which are excellent conceptually but have the unintended consequence of incentivising illegal waste exports – for example, where PERN credits are given for 100% of exports, even if those exports are illegal. 

With specific reference to Northern Ireland, we note that in regard to the changes to the fees in it has been assumed that the current pattern of shipments will continue for the foreseeable future but it is unclear upon what basis this assumption has been made. There are some indications that the quantity of shipments for export from Northern Ireland will increase and our local authority members in Northern Ireland would be keen to explore this in more detail with the DOENI. 

Ray Georgeson MBE 

Chief Executive 

10th May 2013 

Resource Association 

Suite One, 2 Boroughgate, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 3AL 

Telephone: 01943 464778 

www.resourceassociation.com

ANNEX 1 

Resource Association – membership at May 2013 

ACE-UK (Alliance for Beverage Cartons and Environment) 

Alloa Community Enterprises 

arc21 

Aylesford Newsprint 

Bryson Recycling 

Closed Loop Recycling 

Coca-Cola Enterprises 

Dentons 

ECO Plastics 

Enviroparks 

Nick Francis 

Huhtamaki (Lurgan) 

Peter Jones OBE (Ecolateral) 

Kent Waste Partnership 

May Gurney 

Novelis Recycling 

Palm Recycling 

Renewable Energy Association 

Resource Futures 

Romaquip 

DS Smith Recycling 

Smurfit Kappa Recycling 

Somerset Waste Partnership 

Straight 

UPM 

Wood Recyclers Association 

 

1 Resource Association (2013) Response to Consultation on draft MRF Regulations – at http://resourceassociation.com/page/consultation-draft-materials-recover...

2 Resource Association (2012) End Destination of Recycling Charter – at http://resourceassociation.com/about-charter