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As we settle into 2024, it is important to note that there’s going to be some major reforms in England’s recycling in the coming years, which will affect households, businesses and waste collectors.

In case you haven’t heard, DEFRA unveiled major plans to reform England’s waste system at the end of October 2023, under the initiative called ‘Simpler Recycling’.

With new reports about procurement and council confidence emerging, alongside support campaigns from related bodies, we thought it would be important to go through these reforms and their implications for everyone involved.

In this article, we will dive into the specifics of Simpler Recycling, the key changes and deadlines, as well as how it will impact organisations and businesses alike.

Simpler Recycling

Simpler Recycling: DEFRA’s new reforms  

The new Simpler Recycling rules are designed to boost recycling rates in England, as well as to standardise the country’s waste collection services. A key benefit to this plan, aside from improved recycling, is to standardise regulations across different area codes, ultimately eliminating frequent confusion regarding whether local authorities accept certain items.

In the following section, we will further break down the reforms’ key objectives.

The New Recycling Rules

DEFRA’s new recycling regulations aim to:

  • Standardise collections: Local authorities across England will collect the following waste streams: glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, food waste and garden waste (optional waste stream and charges may apply depending on the authority).
  • Introduce further food collections: Weekly food waste collections will be available to most UK households through their local authority.
  • Reassess general waste removals: Residual (general) waste removals from households will be done at least once every fortnight. To improve waste management, especially in urban centres, the government plans to partner with local authorities to review collection arrangements.
  • Recycle plastic film: Plastic film is planned to be collected starting from 2027.
  • Streamline bins: Waste collectors will be able to collect combined dry recyclables, reducing the need for households to have bins for each planned waste stream.
  • Review rules for businesses: These comprehensive regulations will be applied to businesses as well. Recycling collections for organisations (excluding garden waste and plastic film), will start from March 2025. This will include schools, as well as hospitals. Micro-firms (businesses with less than 10 full-time equivalent employees) will have more time to adapt to these regulations, accommodating the wide-ranging contracts for waste collections.
  • Regulate waste tracking: A digital system for waste tracking is planned to be introduced for carriers, operators and brokers. This will tackle waste crime in the country.

The plan won’t be bound by a single deadline as much as being gradually rolled out by local councils. In the next section, we will outline the key deadlines to look out for.

Simpler Recycling: Key dates and timeline

Core recycling for most large businesses

Banner March 2025

From 31 March 2025, collections for the aforementioned waste streams will commence, most businesses and organisations (excluding micro-businesses with less than 10 employees), as well as schools and hospitals, will need to make provisions to collect these core waste streams (except for garden waste and plastic film).

Weekly food waste collections

Banner March 2026

By March 2026, local councils and authorities will start providing weekly food waste collections for most households in England. This is alongside starting to include provisions for all the core aforementioned recycling waste streams.

Micro-businesses and plastic film

Banner March 2027

Micro-businesses with less than 10 full-time equivalent employees will have until 31 March 2027 to make provisions for the collection of the core waste streams (exc. Garden waste). During this period, plastic film collections will commence for all stakeholders.

What the recycling legislation means for businesses and organisations

The new Simpler Recycling legislation will provide a framework for standardising recycling in England, with the objective of improving recycling rates. This will require businesses to adhere to further regulations to streamline recycling for the rest of the country.

Most businesses, as well as other organisations such as schools and hospitals, will need to comply with the new rules by implementing recycling practices largely by March 2025. This will involve arranging collections and recycling for the waste streams by licensed waste carriers adhering to this legislation.

To ensure they have the latest information in preparation for these new rules, businesses should utilise the official government website.

Consultations regarding further terms of these regulations are yet to be finalised, meaning that we will be expecting further updates in the future. Having said this, it is crucial for organisations to consult with waste management experts.

Bywaters’ Sustainability Team provides comprehensive consultations for facilities regardless of waste stream, ensuring compliance with developing legislation like this. Get in touch with us today to find out more!

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