DEFRA consults on new definition for municipal waste

Proposals for clarifying which definition of municipal applies to the landfill allowance trading scheme in England were issued for consultation by the Environment Department (DEFRA) last week

The consultation proposes replacing the definition in the Waste Emissions Trading Act 2003 of “waste from households and other waste that, because of its nature or composition, is similar to waste from households” with the more specific interpretation given in guidance on the Local Authority Trading Scheme (LATS) of “all waste under the control of local authorities”.

The change is necessary because local authorities have been unsure about which definition to follow since the scheme’s inception in April 2005. The fact that the interpretation in the guidance is subject to a legal challenge by Western Riverside Waste Authority has added to the uncertainty.

Amending the 2003 Act would be simpler than rewriting the guidance because the latter would require a judgement of types of waste that are municipal, based on their relationship to the composition or nature of waste from households. This would be “difficult and complex” and “open to interpretation”.

Making the definition in the 2003 Act the same as that in the guidance would result in no change to the way Environment Agency calculates the amount of biodegradable municipal waste landfilled by each authority.

Further information DEFRA consultation paper