Legislation update – Summer 2017

15th July 2017 Posted by

This summer, we look at a number of key pieces of legislation, government and industry news, and what it means for our customers.

Replacement of Data Protection Act 1998

From 25 May 2018, the UK Data Protection Act 1998 will be replaced by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), framing new rules around the storage and handling of personal data. Companies must keep a record of how and when an individual gives consent to store and use their personal data. Companies that control how and why data is processed must show a clear audit trail of consent.

In the event of a data breach, GDPR requires companies to inform the relevant authorities, as well as customers within 72 hours. GDPR requires controllers and processors of personal information to designate a data protection officer. Companies breaching the regulation could be subject to a fine of up to 4% of their global turnover, or €20 million, whichever is greater.

WEEE – new targets confirmed

Targets for the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) have been confirmed for 2017. Defra set a target of 622,033 tonnes for 2017, brought down from the initial proposals.

However, the revised target will still represent an anticipated growth in collected WEEE tonnages of around 14% compared to the 2016 target. This means that compliance schemes will have to collect around 40,000 tonnes more WEEE than in 2016

EU environmental laws will apply post-Brexit

The government has confirmed that the ‘whole body’ of existing environmental laws derived from EU legislation will be safeguarded in UK law prior to Brexit. The Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU) set out the terms of the Great Repeal Bill, which is expected to be put in place before the UK withdraws from the European Union in 2019. Environmental laws will be among those brought into UK statute under the bill. This is expected to include regulations on waste, packaging, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and landfill.

This will mean that existing targets and commitments established in EU legislation will continue to apply at least until the government has put in place alternative legislation to pursue a different course. Regarding the EU Circular Economy Package, it is reported that Defra continues its involvement in negotiations over the Circular Economy Package ‘in good faith’ with some civil servants anticipating that the UK will opt to adhere to the proposals outlined in the package after Brexit.

New standard for the Circular Economy

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has launched a new standard, BS 8001: 2017: Framework for implementing the principles of the circular economy in organisations – guide. BS 8001 was developed to provide guiding principles for organisations and individuals to consider and implement more sustainable practices. It is the first standard of its kind in the UK and globally. BS 8001 outlines what the circular economy is and how an organisation can transition from a linear to a circular, and more sustainable, day-to-day operation.

Practical implementation of the six principles of the circular economy – innovation, stewardship, collaboration, value optimisation, transparency, and systems thinking – forms the framework of the standard, providing step-by-step guidance on how an organisation can navigate through the different stages of implementation.

Producer Responsibility Obligations – packaging waste

To comply with recycling and recovery obligations under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations, the UK operates the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) system to provide evidence that waste packaging material has been recycled and that the national target has been met. The system has been under scrutiny owing to the likelihood of higher packaging waste recycling targets being imposed through the EU Circular Economy Package incorporated into the Great Repeal Bill (see page 2). In PackFlow 2025 compliance scheme Valpak studied four options to meet future recycling targets, ranging from a ‘status quo PRN system’ to a ‘full cost to industry’ approach. The study concluded that the present system had the highest cost variability and the highest potential for non-achievement of higher recycling targets. No specific recommendations were made, other than to contemplate reforming the present PRN system.

Each quarter, the Source legislation update compiles a round-up of emerging policy and legislation, from the UK and EU, which could have an impact on recycling and waste management practices.

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