Report: New tariffs on trade will likely increase UK's waste management costs post-Brexit

Dive Brief:

  • A new report from the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee said that new restrictions or tariffs on trade between the U.K. and the European Union (E.U.) "could significantly increase the costs of waste management post-Brexit," as reported by Waste Management World.
  • The enforcement of environmental regulations and compliance with E.U. trade policies was highlighted as a key factor that could affect the U.K. waste industry. According to the Environmental Services Association (ESA), about 4 million metric tons of waste are currently exported to other E.U. countries and this could be affected by new tariffs.
  • The ESA also said that about 25% of the recyclables sorted in the U.K. are exported to the E.U. and these markets will be necessary to allow for continued diversion rate growth.

Dive Insight:

Since last summer's Brexit vote, many questions have been raised about how the U.K.'s waste industry would be affected. This report shows that regardless of how the plan is implemented, the U.K. can't escape its close relationship with the E.U. on environmental issues and waste exports. Figuring out how to maintain E.U. environmental regulations and goals such as the circular economy package will be a complicated process as Parliament considers the Great Repeal Bill.

The report also found that the threat of E.U. infractions played a key role in encouraging recycling progress in the U.K. Even with that push, the U.K. recently dropped to 10th among member countries for recycling efforts and may not meet the 50% diversion rate target by 2020. Packaging has been highlighted as an area for improvement, though the country has recently seen some innovative programs around consumer items such as coffee cups.

The U.K.'s waste industry is one of many that is trying to figure out how it will be affected by Brexit and more details can be expected in the coming months. Those in the U.S. waste industry that are curious about how potential new trade policies could affect their own businesses will likely be watching with great interest.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer Regulation