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Committee highlights concerns for trade in waste post-Brexit

18 January 2018

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Government, drawing attention to the challenges Brexit may pose for the UK's trade in waste. The UK currently exports millions of tonnes of waste to the EU each year, and the Committee has held several evidence sessions to examine the potential impact of Brexit on that trade.

Key findings

  • The waste industry expressed concerns that any increase in the cost or difficulty of trading waste could result in an increase in waste crime and more waste being landfilled. The Committee therefore recommends that the Government seeks to preserve non-tariff, barrier-free trade to the greatest extent possible
  • Under EU regulations, Member States cannot export hazardous waste for treatment to non-EU countries. This will cause particular problems for the Republic of Ireland, who currently export around 40% of their hazardous waste to the UK. Whilst addressing this issue is a matter for the EU, the Committee has asked the Government to clarify what impact this loss of trade may have on UK businesses
  • Gibraltar currently relies on transporting its waste to Spain for processing. The Committee is urging the Government to produce a full assessment of the potential impact that post-Brexit tariff and non-tariff barriers could have on Gibraltar's waste management and identify mitigating actions
  • The direction of UK waste policy has long been set by the EU, and the Committee heard that the industry's biggest concern was the lack of clarity over the UK's future policy direction, which has left them unable to plan their business or make investment decisions. The Government plans to publish its resources and waste strategy in the first half of this year, but the Committee recommends that certainty over future policy direction is provided to the industry as soon as possible

Chair's comments

Chair of the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, Lord Teverson, said:

"We were pleased to hear the confidence that the Minister expressed to the Committee that Brexit will have little or no impact on the UK's trade in waste. The industry experts that we heard from, however, did not share that confidence. We would therefore urge the Government to bear the industry's concerns in mind as Brexit negotiations continue, and seek to provide them with reassurance at the earliest possible opportunity"

Further information