The purpose of the Circular Economy Bill is to facilitate a shift from the linear 'take-make-waste' model, to a more sustainable model where waste and resource use are reduced and materials and products are used and maintained for as long as possible and regenerated at the end of use. This means less waste.
As well as providing a legal basis for the circular economy programme, strategy and fund, the Circular Economy Bill provides for a number of significant changes including the imposition of a waste recovery levy, and the use of CCTV and other recording devices for waste enforcement purposes. It is noted that Minister Smyth indicated in his closing remarks that he intended to introduce a provision to allow for the generation of a list of households with no waste contract by way of amendment at the Committee Stage.
Waste recovery levy – section 28
Section 28 of the Circular Economy Bill provides the Minister with the power to make regulations charging a levy on waste recovery activities, including the export of waste for recovery. A levy of up to a maximum of €120 per tonne of waste recovered or sent for recovery. This section provides for a levy of up to €120 per tonne of waste recovered. While the Minister cannot raise the amount first set by more than €50 at any one time, and this amount can only be amended once every financial year, the imposition of a high levy would have significant implications for waste businesses and their customers.
The imposition of a waste recovery levy of €5 per tonne in relation to recovery operations at Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Landfills, Waste to Energy Plants and Co-Incineration Plants and the export of MSW was listed as a deliverable in the government's Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy. This levy will be paid into the Circular Economy Fund and will be collected by the relevant local authority, or by Dublin City Council in respect of waste exported for recovery.
Use of CCTV and mobile recording devices for waste enforcement purposes – section 20, 21
It is proposed to amend the Waste Management Act 1996 and the Litter Pollution Act 1997 respectively to provide for the use of CCTV for waste enforcement purposes. This is needed due to data protection concerns in respect of the use of CCTV and other digital monitoring mechanisms such as drones by local authorities for the detection of waste related offences since GDPR came into force in May 2018. By providing a legal basis for the use of CCTV and other recording devices for use in waste enforcement that takes into account the need for data protection measures, local authorities will be able to deploy these technologies to try and detect, and deter, illegal dumpling.
The use of CCTV to tackle illegal dumping and litter has received widespread political support and has been a focus of the debates on the Circular Economy Bill to date. Sections 22 and 32 include a Code of Practice for the use CCTV and mobile recording devices and sections 23 and 33 include provisions in relation to the admissibility of evidence obtained using these methods and as such should support the use of these technologies for waste enforcement.