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Waste Disposal Costs To Rise After Brexit

29th April 2019

Whether you voted to Leave or to Remain, most Britons are aware that some aspects of our lives may change following Brexit - from roaming charges on our mobile phones to increases in food prices. But one thing which many businesses haven't considered, says BusinessWaste.co.co.uk, is the rising cost of waste disposal.

While there are still ongoing discussions in Brussels and at 10 Downing Street, it seems clear that some form of Brexit will happen in the coming months. This means that new trade agreements will be put into place after Britain exits the European Union – and, if Britain is no longer part of the existing trading union, that means new tariffs on countless everyday items we import from abroad.

Bins themselves, for example, will cost more to import – bumping prices up even at the point of waste collection. Fuel will almost certainly be more expensive, meaning that the cumulative cost of waste collection across the country will rise – with the costs passed onto businesses who pay for their waste disposal.

One area where prices may see considerable increases, however, is the cost of exporting our waste. Currently Britain exports around 15 million tonnes of recycle materials overseas – 3-4 million tonnes of which goes to the EU, making it a significant part of our waste exporting process. We gain around £1 billion per year from the sale of these recyclable materials to European union countries – and rely on their treatment facilities where we don’t have the capacity to manage the volumes of waste produced.

A hard Brexit, where we leave both the customs union and the single market, would mean trade tariff increases of up to 6.5% on some materials – and although trade deals can be made which would reduce these costs, these are yet to have been agreed by the government.

Of course, this is set against a backdrop where the economic uncertainty will affect the sterling exchange rate – one study showed that the change in the strength of the Pound caused a 20% increase in costs of exporting refuse-derived fuel and scrap materials for recycling, meaning that the increased prices will be felt even more keenly by UK businesses.

Mark Hall, Communications Director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, said:"It’s clear that, whatever form Brexit now takes, it will cause either disruption or price increases to the UK waste management and disposal industry. We are currently operating under the EU’s rules for waste and recycling, and any changes that might happen as a result of Brexit will alter the landscape for this sector. We know businesses might be concerned about the impact Brexit will have on their waste management arrangements, and we would urge them to seek professional advice – while there are no definities in the Brexit process as yet, businesses can certainly benefit from looking to reduce costs in their current set-up, which will benefit them as we head into uncharted waters post-Brexit."

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