What’s Brexit got to do with Bins?

In my last piece I mentioned the “consultation lull” and we were waiting to hear the outcome of the DEFRA consultations. They appeared sooner than anticipated, and we now know that there will be further consultations in spring 2020. Before then, there will be another series of stakeholder workshops, which LARAC will be sending representatives to, ensuring our members views are represented in the various groups.

A lot of the changes that we know are likely to happen as a result of the strategy and related consultations are due to be implemented by 2023, but what happens between now and then? Will it be all plain sailing? We have the prospect of a no deal Brexit looming and regular media articles on what that may entail including potential shortages of medicines, more expensive food and travel problems. I’ve not seen many mainstream media reports on the impact on waste and recycling though.

The impact of Brexit was a topic for discussion at our quarterly update with WRAP recently, and as one of the participants put it, “What’s Brexit got to do with bins?”. Quite a lot when you think about the impact on exports, not just recycling, but the impending Dutch RDF tax too. So if waste has nowhere to go, and we can’t deal with it within the UK, do we stop collecting it? You can bet if collections stop or HWRCs close their doors that it will definitely be in the news then!

Textiles have made industry headlines recently, with some councils experiencing problems in finding an offtaker for kerbside collected material. Quality and end markets are cited as reasons why, as with other recycling, and it is often the case that councils will end up bearing the brunt of the cost as markets restrict even further, squeezing our ever-diminishing budgets even further.

On a more positive note, there is a wave of change surrounding the “fast fashion” culture as more people consider their spending habits along with sustainability and perhaps ethical reasons. Oxfam have launched a “Second Hand September” campaign and are asking for pledges to say no to new clothes for 30 days. There’s also WRAP’s Love Your Clothes campaign which has loads of reuse/repair tips as well as how to buy smarter. Waste prevention is the top of the hierarchy, and I do feel that as local authorities and consumers, we can all do a lot more to minimise waste.