Agency issues reminder on separate collections

The Environment Agency has written to businesses in the waste industry and councils to remind them of their obligations to separately collect paper, plastic, glass and metal from next month.

A letter from the Agency’s head of regulated industry, Harvey Bradshaw, was sent yesterday (December 22) to clarify the requirements of the Waste (England & Wales) Regulations, which come into effect from January 1.

Plastic Recycling

The Environment Agency has outlined details relating to how it will police the requirements for the separate collection of recyclable materials from next month

The letter was accompanied by the final version of the Agency’s long-awaited separate collections briefing note, which confirms its approach to policing the regulations. A final draft of the note was circulated to stakeholders earlier this month

A spokesman for the Agency, said: “The Environment Agency has written to remind waste collectors that they should collect recycled paper, glass, metals and plastic separately where this is technically, economically and environmentally practicable and necessary to produce high-quality recycling.

“These rules are being brought in as part of the Waste Regulations (2011) under the EU Waste Framework Directive. The aim is to help ensure that recycled materials are good enough to make new paper, glass, plastics and metal, so helping to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, help the economy and improve the environment.”


Under the regulations, separate collections of at least paper, metal, plastic and glass for household and commercial waste are a legal requirement, unless it is not technically, environmentally or economically practicable (TEEP) or necessary to allow high quality recycling of the material.

“This note should help to give some guidance to our members and local authorities, not least on the Agency’s approach to enforcing the new requirements.”

Jakob Rindegren
– Recycling policy advisor, ESA

In the briefing note, the Environment Agency advises collection contractors and councils to review their collection practices and carefully consider if and how they comply.

The Agency adds that it will be monitoring data from sources such as WasteDataFlow, the WRAP website and returns from the Materials Regulations in order to assess whether collectors are complying with the requirements.

It has also produced a ‘risk-based regime, compiling a matrix of what it believes are indicators of ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ levels of compliance.


Previously the Agency has stated that it will seek to pursue legal action ‘as a last resort’ and this is confirmed in the updated briefing note.

The Environmental Services Association has welcomed the publication of the briefing note, despite admitting that there was little advice available for commercial collection contractors.

ESA’s recycling policy advisor, Jakob Rindegren, said: “We are pleased to see that the Environment Agency has finally published its briefing note for the separate collection of recyclable material. This note should help to give some guidance to our members and local authorities, not least on the Agency’s approach to enforcing the new requirements.

“ESA has worked closely with the Agency on the development of the briefing note, which we feel provides a reasonable overview of the new obligations for local authorities. There is however little steer for producers of business waste. Our members will of course continue to work closely with their commercial customers to help them comply with the changing rules.”