Government warns waste exporters of ‘no deal’ Brexit port disruption

The UK Government has warned waste exporters to expect delays at container ports such as the Port of Dover in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and says businesses should seek ‘alternative’ export, recovery or disposal routes for their waste.

The latest advice from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), published on 25 March, comes amid continued uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the EU and whether the government’s negotiated Withdrawal Agreement will be accepted by Parliament, if the UK will crash out without a deal or, indeed, whether Brexit will even go ahead at all.

Ports operating a ‘roll-on, roll-off’ system for haulage vehicles may experience ‘some delays’, with the port of Dover predicted to be the most affected. This has the potential to particularly affect exports of refuse derived fuel (RDF) to mainland Europe: 15 per cent of the 3.6 million tonnes of RDF the UK sends to mainland Europe every year travels through the Port of Dover.

In the event of disruption, however, the government has advised waste exporters to take precautionary measures to minimise the impact on their business, including: Reviewing their own storage capacity and considering the potential environmental risks of storing waste for longer; identifying alternative storage facilities or ‘alternative recovery or disposal routes’ for their waste; and assessing if there are ‘alternative export routes’ that avoid disrupted ports.