We found this article which applies to companies with a £2 million turnover – here are a few snippets we think may be of interest to you;
To what extent do waste producers have obligations regarding the take-back and recovery of their waste?
In England and Wales, the Waste Regulations require anyone who deals with waste to apply the ‘waste hierarchy’: (1) prevention; (2) re-use; (3) recycling; (4) other recovery; and (5) disposal.
Certain categories of waste have their own requirements on take-back and recovery, including packaging waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment, end-of-life vehicles and batteries. For example, under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, companies with a turnover of over £2 million that handle over 50 tonnes of packaging annually must recover and recycle a proportion of their packaging waste (either themselves or, more commonly, through participation in a producer responsibility compliance scheme).
The Environment Act 2021 makes provision for various regulations relating to take-back and recovery, including (for example): extended producer responsibility (EPR) to make producers pay for 100% of the cost of disposal of packaging; a deposit return scheme for single-use drinks containers; electronic waste tracking to monitor waste movements; and further controls on export of waste to non-OECD countries.
Some aspects of the new EPR rules commenced on 1 January 2023 (as part of a phased approach), and will ultimately require certain producers to take responsibility for the environmental impact of the packaging they supply by obligating them to pay for the collection and disposal costs of this packaging when it becomes waste. Those businesses in scope may need to: collect and report data on the packaging they handle and supply; pay a waste management fee; continue to buy packaging waste recycling notes (PRNs) or packaging waste export recycling notes (PERNs) to meet recycling obligations; and report information about onward supply.
Further more – this also applies regardless of turnover;
What types of liabilities can arise where there is a breach of environmental laws and/or permits, and what defences are typically available?
Both criminal and civil liabilities can arise. Criminal prosecution is available to regulators for environmental offences where it is in the public interest to prosecute (generally, the more serious offences in terms of harm and/or culpability). Civil sanctions (imposed by the regulator) can include fixed and variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, restoration notices and stop notices, and there is also potential for enforcement undertakings as discussed in question 2.4. Liability to third parties might also arise, for example, under the torts of negligence, nuisance and trespass. There are also specific environmental torts created by statute, for example, for harm caused to others from illegal waste activities.
The defences available will vary depending on the nature of the liability and breach. Although most offences are strict liability offences (for which committing the act is sufficient in itself to trigger liability – irrespective of whether intended or negligent), for a limited number of offences it will be a defence to demonstrate that reasonable precautions and appropriate due diligence was carried out to avoid the commission of the offence. Other defences include, for example, ‘best practicable means’, a widely used defence that is available against statutory nuisance actions (such as noise, fumes, dust and odour).
The article finishes with this update;
Please provide, in no more than 300 words, a summary of any new cases, trends and developments in environment law in your jurisdiction.
The Environment Act 2021 represents the biggest change to environmental law in a generation, driven by the UK’s exit from the EU. One of the objectives for the Act was to establish a framework to govern how environmental law will be created in an independent UK. The focus is on the mechanisms for shaping future law rather than changing the substantive laws. The Environment Act 2021 provides mechanisms for the introduction of environmental targets by the SoS, and those targets are monitored and enforced by a new, independent Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP should hold government and public bodies to account on their environmental obligations. It also provides government with powers to create, adapt and change large areas of environmental law through ‘secondary legislation’ (laws created through a fast-track system with less parliamentary scrutiny).
Another potential seismic change in UK environmental law could flow from the ‘Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022–23’ (labelled the ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’), which is currently moving through the UK parliamentary process. If enacted in its current form, the Bill will automatically revoke all retained EU law within scope at the end of 2023, except where it has been preserved (i.e. ‘restated’ and thus exempted from the sunset) before then, by means of a statutory instrument (secondary legislation) made by a Minister or a devolved authority. This ‘sunset’ deadline can be extended by statutory instrument, but to no later than the end of 23 June 2026 (10 years from the Brexit referendum vote). DEFRA has identified over 1,000 pieces of environmental legislation within scope. While the latest messaging from DEFRA suggests it favours a ‘retain by default’ approach, a significant amount of political capital has been invested in the idea that at least some of the retained EU law should be revoked within this extremely tight timeframe.
We hope this is of interest and helps you stay protected – as KK specialise in waste handling solutions – feel free to ask us for our advice to see how we can assist you
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