The consultation, the remit of which covers all four devolved administrations, could make digital waste tracking compulsory via powers granted in the Environment Act 2021.
This change would represent a substantial overhaul of the current system, meaning that all waste is accounted for, from the time it becomes initially classified as waste to its final disposal, re-use or recycling.
The consultation explains how despite there being over 200 million tonnes of waste produced in the UK annually, there is “no single or comprehensive way of tracking it” and therefore “large amounts of data are either not collected or not collated centrally”.
Proposals to tackle this outlined in the consultation includes the mandatory digital recording of controlled and extractive waste, and compulsory logging of “the full journey of waste from the point it is produced and transferred to another person or site, to the point it reaches its end fate”.
Lessen opportunities for irresponsible behaviour
This comes alongside another consultation surrounding the ‘carrier, broker, dealer’ system for waste permitting, further highlighting the agency’s commitment to crack down on waste crime.
Alongside the undoubted benefits of having more granular data for upcoming reforms, including the packaging producer responsibility system, compulsory waste tracking will certainly lessen opportunities for irresponsible behaviour.
Environment Minister, Jo Churchill, has said “Waste criminals show complete disregard for our communities, the environment and the taxpayer. We have disrupted these rogue operators by giving extra powers to the Environment Agency, with nearly 1,000 illegal waste sites now being shut down each year”.
The current PRN system has long been criticised for its lack of transparency and incidence of fraud, so it is encouraging to see Defra’s plans to tackle this issue, alongside the upcoming regulatory changes to Extended Producer Responsibility.
The deadline for responding to the mandatory digital waste tracking consultation is 15 April 2022, and you can access all the documents here.
As Policy advisor Louisa provides key support to our team, including preparing reports on environmental policy issues and maintaining awareness of new developments. As such she will often be found coordinating responses to policy consultations, advocating policy positions and providing internal guidance to current legislation.