As previously noted on this blog, the only true beneficiaries of 'recycling' domestic waste are those companies with a stake in waste collection and processing. The EU directive concerned only sets targets for the percentage of recyclable waste collected, not the percentage actually recycled. As a consequence, as long as waste collection authorities collect recyclables separately, they are then free to dispose of the arisings as they wish - as fuel for a CHP plant, to landfill, or for sale. Further, as the High Court in Cardiff has now ruled, there is no requirement to split the collection of recyclables. All recyclable waste can go in a single bin.
A consortium of green do-gooders and minor waste industry players had sought judicial review to enforce the separate collection of five different recyclable waste streams. They failed. What's notable, however, is that all the big waste players were absent from the joint action; the international manufacturers and patent-holders of wheely bins, the constructors and operators of massive and expensive automated waste sorting plants (MRFs), the makers of waste collection vehicle bodies and gear, the manufacturers of anaerobic digestion plants were nowhere to be seen. Indeed, they will find the High Court's ruling most unwelcome, and the attempted action ill-advised.
The big boys prefer to operate through the industry bodies, through Whitehall and by lobbying Mr Pickles. They cultivate waste management contacts with local councils, and they seek to persuade all concerned that the Waste Directive requires massive public investment to satisfy. Some councils and administrations are more gullible than others. My own, Lewisham, has only ever required the separation of two waste streams. Other councils have jumped the gun and already issue a plethora of bags, boxes and containers. The recent High Court ruling now leaves such eager gold-platers with the prospect of explaining to voters why they're spending so much money when there's no need to. Even DEFRA admits that much of the recyclable waste collected is unusable, unsaleable or there's no market for it.