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Environment Agency consults on updating charges for international waste shipments

The Environment Agency has today (4 October) launched a public consultation on updating charges for regulating waste shipments to ensure it can continue its work to protect people and the environment from hazardous waste.

Currently, the cost of the Environment Agency’s regulatory activities is greater than the fees it charges waste importers and exporters. The most recent amendments to international waste shipment charges were published in 2012 – and in the last decade, multiple factors including market trends and policies to improve environmental standards have increased the costs of regulation.

The Environment Agency spends its income from charges on processing applications, data reporting and compliance work to ensure shipments are lawful and do not pose a risk to the environment. It has a responsibility to recover fully the costs of its regulatory activities via charges, avoiding costs being carried by the taxpayer.

The Environment Agency inspected 1,390 containers of waste in the 2021/22 financial year. Of these, 260 were returned to their site of loading which, combined with the Environment Agency’s regulatory interventions at waste sites, prevented the illegal export of more than 19,000 tonnes of waste.

The consultation has been launched to make certain the Environment Agency has the appropriate resources to provide a quality service and its customers pay the right amount for the work it does to ensure the protection of the environment and human health.

Steve Molyneux, Environment Agency Deputy Director of Waste Regulation, said:

Notification controls are crucial – they allow us to work with the UK’s waste industry and our partners around the world to ensure waste movements are correctly managed and don’t cause harm to the environment.

Currently, the cost of these regulatory activities is greater than the fees we charge. We have a responsibility to avoid passing on costs to the taxpayer and a commitment to fairness and transparency.

Our proposed changes will reflect the full cost of the chargeable services we provide – ensuring we continue to protect the environment internationally, as well as people’s health, safety and wellbeing.

The consultation proposes to update charges annually in line with inflation to maintain full cost recovery, using the Office for National Statistics measure of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation as of 30 September in the immediately preceding year. Any increase to charges will be equal to or less than this – increases will be lower if the Environment Agency believes its increased costs do not equate to the CPI measure.

The new charges will apply to exports and imports of notified waste from and to England and would come into force on 1 April 2024.

Stakeholders and interested parties are invited to contribute to the consultation here.

Businesses involved in the shipment of waste are required to take all necessary steps to ensure that the waste they ship is managed in an environmentally sound manner throughout its shipment and during its recycling. Those found to be exporting waste and not complying with legislative requirements can face two years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine on successful conviction.

The Environment Agency continues to pursue those who blight the lives of overseas communities through illegal exports and have introduced additional measures to tackle them, including by working closely with HM Revenue and Customs, reviewing inconsistencies between customs information and packaging data and creating an investigations team to target serious offenders.

Waste, waste treatment and especially recycling must be properly managed whether it is processed at home or abroad and the Environment Agency works closely with the waste industry and local authorities to safeguard the environment. It works – England is a much cleaner, greener place because of the Environment Agency’s activities.

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