The Environment Agency (EA) and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to officially agree to share information and intelligence and to carry out joint operations across England to help cut the transportation of illegal waste and also to improve road safety.
The announcement was made by EA Chair, Emma Howard Boyd (pictured above), in the Circular Economy Connect Theatre at RWM.
Emma said the MOU would work by sharing information and on the premise that if waste operators are lax in their vehicle safety they could possibly be lax in other areas too.
She said, going forward, the EA would like to collaborate more, not just with government bodies, but with waste companies and operators.
She said she would like to see waste companies take greater ownership of their environmental performance and that “trust is key”. She said this “trust” is being “undermined” by waste criminals.
The EA Chair also hinted the Agency will be discussing with Defra later in the year about tougher entrance criteria into waste industry to further reduce waste crime at the point of entry.
Mind The Gap
SUEZ officially launched its UK waste infrastructure report in the Circular Economy Connect Theatre.
SUEZ says that Mind the Gap 2017-2030 finds the UK faces a “severe shortage of vital waste treatment infrastructure” over the next decade.
The shortage relates primarily to a lack of energy-from-waste (EfW) power plants, which are replacing landfill sites as the preferred, more sustainable, waste disposal solution for non-recyclable “residual” waste, the company says.
SUEZ says that landfills are closing at a faster rate than anticipated, with some regions of the UK facing the “virtual elimination” of easily accessible landfill sites within the next five years, putting additional pressure on what it calls “scarce” alternative EfW treatment capacity.
CEO of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, David Palmer-Jones said: “Our projections show that there is a serious long-term shortfall in the UK’s vital waste management infrastructure and a potential disaster scenario now looming in the event of a hard Brexit.
“Back in 2014 SUEZ warned government that the UK has, and will continue to have, a structural waste treatment capacity gap. Brexit will now exacerbate the problem.
“Hard borders, import tariffs and a weakening Sterling will make waste exports to Europe, which the UK continues to rely upon, financially unviable. Instead, the waste we currently export in the absence of sufficient domestic energy from waste capacity, will be re-shored into remaining, expensive, UK landfill – at a high cost to British businesses, taxpayers and the environment.”
The findings contradict the recently-published findings of a report by environmental consultancy Eunomia, which found that the UK’s supply of waste treatment capacity will exceed the available quantity of residual waste in 2020/21.
The Deposit Debate
There was lively debate in the Circular Economy Connect Theatre in the afternoon’s opening session, with a panel of experts looking at the viability for a deposits return scheme on drinks packaging.
The panel included representative from Defra, McDonald’s, Coca Cola Enterprises and INCPEN, who shared their views on what a potential deposit return scheme (DRS) might look like, as well as the potential benefits and difficulties around such a scheme.
The debate follows the recent announcement that the Scottish Government has committed to implementing a DRS for drinks packaging.
The panel agreed the success of a DRS largely depends on what the scheme looks like and it’s objective; reduce litter, increase recycling etc?
Some argued with kerbside collections in place there is already a system for collecting this material, while others put forward the opinion that the current “on the go” recycling system is not fit for purpose.
It was also stressed that a DRS is not a “silver bullet”, and that to compare it to the levy on plastic carrier bags is oversimplifying the issue.