Barnet residents must recycle or face fines

Residents of Barnet could now face heavy fines if they do not recycle their rubbish following the local council's decision to make it compulsory across the borough.

In what is believed to be a national first, all those living in Barnet’s 113,000 houses are now required by the council to separate and recycle their household rubbish using the local kerbside collection service.

Those that continuously and deliberately fail to recycle their waste will receive warnings, visits from council officers and then formal notices. As a last resort for those who persistently refuse to adhere to the scheme, the council will prosecute and offenders could face fines of up to £1,000.

While some other councils currently have red and yellow card schemes in place to deal with those who refuse to comply with waste collection services, this is the first local authority in the UK to impose fines according to Alice Roberts, spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA).

“While it is already common on the Continent to fine, this is the first time a local authority in the UK has taken such measures to enforce recycling,” Ms Roberts told edie. “But other borough councils will certainly be watching Barnet closely to see if their approach increases the amount of waste recycled per household.”

The decision to take the compulsory scheme borough-wide came after a pilot covering 21,000 households in East Barnet saw recycling rates increase by 18% in that area.

Barnet Council was set a recycling target of 27% for 2005/06 by the government, but this was raised to 30% through a local public service agreement. A spokesperson for the local authority told edie that councillors were confident the scheme would dramatically increase the amount of municipal waste recycled locally, and the new target could easily be reached.

“We are leading the way in new approaches to recycling,” Barnet’s cabinet minister for environment, Cllr Matthew Offord stated. “The initial pilot was an out and out success, and we expect our compulsory scheme to follow suit.”

He added that residents had shown huge support for the recycling programme. Over 77% of respondents to a local survey believed that the compulsory scheme was a good idea because recycling was good for the environment, and helped to keep costs down for council-tax payers.

“Everyone accepts that landfill and incineration are not sustainable and that we must recycle more of our household waste,” Cllr Offord pointed out. “But while many people talk about how they can encourage recycling, Barnet is taking a stand and demonstrating an innovative example to the rest of the country.”

Just over 21% of municipal waste is currently recycled in Barnet.

By Jane Kettle

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