Recycling and the legal meaning of waste

An important question concerning the scope of current waste management controls is the extent to which materials sent for recycling fall within the legal definition of "waste". No definitive answer has yet been given by the higher courts in this country, although in March magistrates in Wolverhampton dismissed a charge under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 against a PVC cable recycling firm, Cables & Metals International, on the grounds that the material had value, and hence could not be regarded as "waste" under the Act.

Now, however, the Divisional Court has considered the issue in the context of town and country planning legislation. The result is not binding in other areas of law, but nevertheless gives an indication of how the courts may be expected to approach the matter.

In R v Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (Divisional Court, 27 October 1989), Safety Kleen, a firm providing a paint spray cleaning service to industry, had been grante

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