Councils must cut costs and raise awareness or miss waste targets

Hiking council tax prices, cutting services or failing to meet Government landfill and emissions targets are the unsatisfactory choices currently facing local authorities, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The association has therefore compiled a guide offering councils ideas of simple ways to cut waste and reduce the soaring costs of rubbish collection and street cleaning around the UK.

Suggestions made by the Local Government Association (LGA) report, entitled 10 easy ways to prevent waste, include promoting real nappies, supporting second hand schemes and charging households for excess waste.

The guide demonstrates that most local councils are keen to experiment with innovative ways to minimise waste and boost recycling figures, chair of the LGA’s environmental board Cllr David Sparks said.

Even though it is the most severely underfunded, waste collection is the most widely recognised council service. But Cllr Sparks claims that most people don’t give much thought to what they throw away, and are largely unaware of the environmental benefits of recycling and reducing the amount of rubbish they produce.

“The guide aims to help councils change the way people think about rubbish, leading to less waste entering the system in the first place,” he stated.

But he pointed out that councils faced a difficult “double whammy” as funding for environmental services was constantly being squeezed, while a host of new waste targets and regulations were being implemented by the Government and the EU.

“Despite rising levels of waste and spiralling disposal costs, the Chancellor’s three-year spending review awarded councils a funding rise of just 0.6% in the first year – a cut in real terms. The settlement for the next two years, around 1% over inflation, will be quickly eaten up by cash starved services.” Cllr Sparks said.

“And all this at precisely the time councils need more funding to divert waste away from landfill to meet government targets, meaning many councils will have to spend before they can start to save.”

By Jane Kettle

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie