Save-As-You-Throw Schemes Must Promote Recycling

Councils warned not to use proposals as stealth tax to raise extra cash

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Council leaders today published specific proposals on how 'save as you throw' schemes could work and made a firm commitment that local authorities would not use it as a stealth tax to raise extra cash and that any scheme should be supported by local people.

The proposals come as a new Ipsos MORI poll reveals two out of three people would prefer a system that rewarded recycling with financial rewards.

The Local Government Association has outlined three schemes which councils could find effective in reducing the amount of waste going into landfill. These are:

  • A sack based system in which householders buy different sized pre-paid sacks for general household waste similar to schemes for disposing of garden waste.
  • A weight based system where wheelie bins are fitted with chips to allow the bins to be weighed when they are loaded onto the vehicle similar to the system currently used for trade waste.
  • A volume based system in which households choose from a range of wheelie bin sizes depending on how much waste they think will be generated, and are charged accordingly.

The LGA has also submitted evidence from Europe which shows the introduction of these schemes can lead to dramatic falls in household waste, increases in waste separation and higher recycling rates.

Councils, and consequently the taxpayer, are facing fines of up to £3 billion over the next four years if they do not meet European Union targets for reducing the amount of waste thrown into landfill.

The LGA wants councils to have the power to introduce initiatives to change householder behaviour by rewarding residents that recycle more but has stressed this must not be a stealth tax and should be a decision for each local authority based on local circumstances and with the support of local people.

Cllr Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA's Environment Board, said, "If councils introduce save-as-you-throw schemes, it will be to promote recycling, not to generate extra cash through an extra stealth tax.

"There will be parts of the country where 'save-as-you-throw' schemes are not appropriate, and the final decision must be made by local councils in response to local need and in consultation with local people.

"Councils are doing everything they can to hold down landfill costs, boost recycling and protect the environment. The unfortunate reality is that we must do more to reduce the amount of waste being thrown into landfill.

"For decades people have been used to throwing their rubbish away without worrying about the consequences. Those days are over. There is now strong public support for schemes that reward people for recycling, and councils should be given the power to introduce these where it is appropriate to do so.

"Evidence from the continent shows 'save-as-you-throw' schemes can reduce waste and boost recycling. Councils and council tax payers are facing fines of up to £3 billion if we do not dramatically reduce the amount of waste thrown into landfill, and so it is vital we look at alternatives to the status quo."

A spokesperson from Hounslow Council said, "It is our intention to maintain weekly collections. We know residents already do a lot in the way of recycling, and would be interested to look at any schemes that would encourage more recycling (because if not, there is the possibility that increasing landfill taxes could result in an increase in council tax bills), but there are currently no plans to consider 'pay as you throw' in Hounslow."


August 24, 2007