Defra: No plans to publish guidance on TEEP

Defra director for waste policy Colin Church has confirmed that his department has no plans to publish guidance for local authorities seeking to carry on with commingled collections after the European Union Waste Framework Directive comes into force next year.

In what is being seen as another blow to the waste industry, Church revealed the news on Friday evening (17 January) through a tweet on social media site Twitter in a discussion with one of his followers.

On his official Twitter account @DrColinChurch, he tweeted: “We don’t plan to publish further Government guidance on TEEP (Technically, Environmentally and Economically Practicable) in England.”

The waste industry has criticised Defra’s recent announcement, as some see the EU Waste Framework Directive requirement for separate collection of recyclables by the beginning of 2015 as the biggest single issue facing the sector. Key to ensuring the success of this is the definition of ‘separately collected’ within the context of TEEP.

The Government was successful in defending the Judicial Review of their regulatory definition of ‘separately collected’ that allowed commingled collection where quality standards were maintained. But in England and Wales there had been no further clarification on the definition of TEEP and Defra has confirmed that it will be issuing no further guidance on this.

Resource Association chief executive Ray Georgeson was dismayed by Church’s tweet. He said: “Even in the era of social media, a Twitter announcement on a Friday night might strike many as an odd way to make such an important policy statement! However, the rumours had been circulating and I am sorry to see them confirmed.

“Given the amount of time and effort we know Defra officials had put into developing a draft TEEP guidance document and the expectation generated especially within local government, I think the onus has to be on Defra to say a little more about why this is not being released than can be covered in 140 characters.

“At the moment it leaves Lord de Mauley’s [ex-Resource Minister] letter to councils issued just before his departure from the resources brief as the best available signal. As Defra said at the time, this means that separate collection is the default position requiring councils to demonstrate clearly if they believe this not to be TEEP in their situation.”

360 Environmental director Phil Conran added: “There are two issues here. One is the collection of commingled recyclables and whether there needs to be guidance beyond what has already been said in the De Mauley letter and whether this can be interpreted from the Waste Regulations.

“This is where local authorities have most concern as the De Mauley letter does not define what is a reasonable assessment of where the quality of materials is degraded by commingling. But then to be fair, neither do the Scottish Regulations and I think this will have to be tested through legal challenge after 1 January 2015.

“Essentially, the most important issue relates to business waste. Without TEEP Guidance, it is difficult to see what will persuade businesses to do anything different to what they do now. Most businesses try and separate out the easy recyclables where it is cheaper to do so.

“How will waste management companies be able to persuade waste producers that they should separate if the business simply says that it is more expensive and there not economically practicable?

“As there is no definition of economically practicable, let alone technically or environmentally, there has to be some Government Guidance on what it means if the inclusion of the requirements for businesses and householders to separate the four materials for collection from 1 Jan 2015 is to have any meaning at all.”

CIWM chief executive Steve Lee concurred with Conran. He said: “With less than a year to go before the requirements of the Waste Framework Directive for the separate collection of recycled materials come into force, CIWM is very concerned that our industry is being left in confusion about TEEP.

“We have important terms in the Waste Framework Directive that have not been adequately defined as part of the transposition into national legislation. We have government departments issuing seemingly conflicting views – in the form of Lord de Mauley’s letter last Autumn and DCLG’s recent ‘bin bible’ – about what the outcome of the Judicial Review means for local authority collections in England and Wales.

“And we have the possibility that other UK countries will produce TEEP guidance while English councils remain in the dark. CIWM will be calling for a more responsible approach from Defra and will be working to ensure that councils are supported with adequate guidance on this important issue.”

ESA director general Barry Dennis explained: “Defra’s decision not to provide local authorities with further guidance on TEEP is regrettable, as it leaves local authorities to grapple with the issue on their own and may add to the uncertainties they face in renewing waste collection contracts in the coming months.

“At the least, it would have been helpful if Defra had brought together in one place the various pointers that could assist councils – namely the relevant parts of the Waste Framework Directive, the Commission’s Guidance, the England and Wales implementing regulations, and the Judicial Review judgment.”

A Defra spokeswoman said: “Local Authorities should be aware of the requirements relating to collection of dry recycling material. We do not believe there is a need to issue further guidance.”

Liz Gyekye



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