Cutting Red Tape

Sector review Waste

Review findings now published

As part of the Cutting Red Tape programme, we ran a review between July and September 2015 to identify barriers to growth and productivity in the waste sector. The review received evidence from over 100 stakeholders across the waste sector from multinational businesses such as Cemex, British Airways and Samsung and smaller medium-sized enterprises such as EcoTech Ltd.

The report from the Cutting Red Tape review of the waste sector has now been published including the Government’s response.

The review identified numerous issues with regulation, including the definition of waste, permitting for different types of waste, and inspections carried out by the Environment Agency. The government has welcomed the findings from the review and has committed to an ambitious programme of reforms that will deliver real changes to regulation in the waste sector, for example, amending guidance to clarify the definition of ‘waste’ and ‘by-products’, and putting in place an action plan to address issues raised in the review on the permitting regime.

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The report on the findings from the review and the Government’s response is published today. The review has identified a total of 22 findings, for example:

• Definition of waste: decisions on whether or not materials are waste or have ceased to be waste are burdensome, costly and time consuming.

• Permitting: the length of time taken to process permit applications, inconsistency between officials and the use and application of ‘standard rules’

• Exemptions: the requirement for registering exemptions for low-risk activities creates unnecessary burdens compared to the levels of risk.

• Inspections: some inspections are being undertaken by officials without the necessary qualifications, experience or training to properly or accurately carry out an assessment. There is also a perceived lack of a risk-based approach to compliance visits and inspections.

Alongside these the Government has also published its responses and a robust work programme to address these findings, for example,

• Definition of waste: we will amend domestic guidance to revise and clarify the definition of ‘waste’ and ‘by-products’, the first stage will be completed by March 2016 with the second stage completed by March 2017.

• Permitting: we will start publishing revised guidance for the Environmental Permitting Regime from March 2016, working with business across the sector to investigate the issues and identify root causes of concerns by April 2016, and put an action plan in place to address issues raised in the review by August 2016.

• Exemptions: we will complete an assessment of compliance with exemptions by the end of March 2016 to inform any subsequent proposal to review existing exemptions and work to review and streamline the online registration system and deliver initial improvements by June 2016.

• Inspections: we will implement a programme to introduce professional environmental regulator status for staff to ensure inspectors have a broader understanding and knowledge of the challenges facing the sector by March 2016 and engage with businesses on reviewing how the Operational Risk Appraisal system could be improved and further deliver benefits of the ‘earned recognition’ principle by June 2016.

As each of the actions outlined in the responses to the findings are delivered, we will published an assessment of the impacts and benefits to business.