Posts Tagged Recovery

Protreat: The end of Waste status of Waste lubricating oil; the waste hierarchy; and the absence of duty for Member States to issue regulatory guidance.

Does a Member State have any obligation at all, either generally or in case-specific circumstances, to provide guidance as to when a product derived from Waste lubricating oil – ‘WLO’ has or has not achieved end-of-waste status through either re-refining or reprocessing? And in the case at issue, was the UK’s Environment Agency correct in its classification of the treated WLO as still being waste, specifically: did the Agency unfairly favour waste oils recovery over material recycling?  These were the issues in [2018] EWHC 1983 (Admin) Protreat v Environment Agency in which Williams J evidently looked primarily to EU Waste law, the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98 in particular.

Among the many points of factual discussion is a review of the Member States’ duties under the Waste hierarchy: Protreat argue (at 67) that the Environment Agency, ‘as an emanation of the State, is under a duty proactively to direct its resources and use its powers to seek to ensure the result required by the Waste Directive. It is submitted, too, that the result required includes “the management of waste in accordance with the waste hierarchy set out in Article 4 of the Waste Directive”. According to the Claimant, this requires the Defendant to perform its functions, so far as possible, to ensure that waste oil treatments higher in the waste hierarchy “are more attractive than treatments lower in the hierarchy”‘.

Williams J is entirely correct at para 71 ff to hold that the hierarchy does not imply that its strict application in all circumstances is not always justified: indeed the hierarchy instruct first and foremost the best environmental outcome in specific circumstances.

That in and of itself makes regulatory guidance difficult to issue – and EU law in general does not impose any obligation to do so: at 81: ‘the terms of Article 6 and, in particular, paragraph 4 thereof, do not support the contention that the Directive imposes upon Member States a specific obligation to provide end-of-waste guidance whether in relation to the products of re-refining or the products of any other process of conversion of waste. The power to decide end-of-waste status “case by case in accordance with the case-law” would, no doubt, permit a regulator to issue guidance. I am not persuaded, however, that this language can be the vehicle for the creation of a specific obligation to issue guidance.’ (Sir Wyn also referred to Article 4 and Article 21 to support that analysis).

Reference to Luxembourg was requested but declined.

Geert.

 

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UK Court holds that waste mingling is not prohibited by the Waste Framework Directive. Local authorities hold the key to optimal collection method.

In Campaign for Real Recycling, the High Court has rejected an argument that the Waste Framework Directive prohibits mixed kerbside collection of paper, metal, plastic and glass. The waste processing companies which are members of CRR, had essentially argued that the UK implementation of the Waste Framework Directive (‘WFD’) was faulty, because it leaves the consideration whether kerbside separate collection, is ‘technically, environmentally and economically practicable’ (see the relevant sections of the WFD below), to be decided by local authorities. In CRR’s view, the UK should have made that assessment centrally, and then imposed it on local authorities. Justice Hickinbottom disagreed, holding that in the absence of instruction in the Directive, it was up to the Member States themselves to decide which authority makes the assessment under Articles 10 and 11 of the Directive.

Relevant provisions in the Directive, are:

Article 10

Recovery

1. Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that waste undergoes recovery operations, in accordance with Articles 4 and 13.

2. Where necessary to comply with paragraph 1 and to facilitate or improve recovery, waste shall be collected separately if technically, environmentally and economically practicable and shall not be mixed with other waste or other material with different properties.

Article 11

Re-use and recycling

1. Member States shall take measures, as appropriate, to promote the re-use of products and preparing for re-use activities, notably by encouraging the establishment and support of re-use and repair networks, the use of economic instruments, procurement criteria, quantitative objectives or other measures.

Member States shall take measures to promote high quality recycling and, to this end, shall set up separate collections of waste where technically, environmentally and economically practicable and appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.

Subject to Article 10(2), by 2015 separate collection shall be set up for at least the following: paper, metal, plastic and glass.

(emphasis added)

Geert.

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