UK rolls-over on tallow law as Europe says non

The UK stands alone in Europe as the only country to place a total ban on tallow burning.

Other European governments have adopted a 'wait and see position' or have decided that tallow is not waste as defined by the European Commission's Waste Incineration Directive.

The Directive came into effect on Monday, but eagle-eyed experts on European law have helped European governments swerve its ruling, at least for the time being. The UK government, however, has ordered that processing plants can no longer burn the environmentally friendly fuel without spending thousands of pounds to convert incinerators.

Most UK renderers have opted to revert to burning heavy fuel oil to power their plants instead, as this is not considered a waste product.

In Germany, although the federal government intends to comply with the directive, the country's regional governments are making their own decisions - which so far has been not to classify tallow as waste.

Elswewhere, the French government insists it has come up with a "creative" solution to the Directive, while Denmark and Sweden have given the new ruling a clear snub. Only Belgium looks likely to follow the UK's submissive adherence to the letter of the law, although no moves have yet been made.

The MLC's EU advisor, Helen Judge, said: "We're taking a big hit in additional costs. Other member states aren't."

She added that it was unlikely that the EU would prevent each country from interpreting the directive. "If the UK had acted differently, it would have been difficult for it to have done much about it," said Ms Judge. She called for the UK to put implementation on hold subject to a Commission study.

Meanwhile, one UK company is buying in palm oil from Indonesia to burn at its Widness plant. Prosper de Mulder director Paul Foxcroft said there was less environmental impact than heavy fuels, but that bringing it half-way round the world was "ludicrous". "It costs about the same as heavy fuel oil, but we can't absorb the costs - they'll be passed on."

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