PAYT could contaminate recycling, campaigners warn

Pay-as-you-throw rubbish schemes could result in fly-tipping in the bottom of household wheelie bins, the Campaign for Real Recycling has claimed.

The organisation, which lobbies for improvements in the quality of recycling materials collected in the UK, is concerned that incentive schemes which aim to cut waste could backfire.

It said problems were most likely to develop in areas with a co-mingled collection, where residents might attempt to reduce their rubbish collection charges by placing rubbish in recycling bins.

Their comments came as a Defra consultation on guidance notes for local authority waste incentive pilot schemes ended.

The CRR said material recycling facilities and reprocessors could face increased contamination problems if pay-as-you-throw schemes were introduced.

A recent WRAP report discovered that about 14% of the material delivered to MRFs from single-stream co-mingled collections is unrecyclable. Overall MRF rejection rates are at 9%.

Mal Williams, CRR Chair, said: “Defra is rightly concerned about fly-tipping of rubbish as a consequence of householder incentive schemes.

“But it is not looking into one of the most likely locations for that fly-tipping, namely at the bottom of the co-mingled wheelie bin, under the recyclables.

“Even a small minority of householders dumping this way could easily negate local authority efforts toward material quality.”

Brian Head, of Berryman Glass, one of the organisations that backs the CRR, added: “Financial incentives to encourage recycling will help increase capture rates, but collection systems where kerbside operatives are unable to operate any form of quality control prior to loading materials onto the vehicle will surely collect more rubbish.

“We had to abandon a similar free glass collection from commercial premises for the same reasons – contamination from the expensive rubbish bin.

“Combining householder incentives with co-mingled collections is simply asking for trouble, doubly so if compaction is also involved.”

Defra is planning to carry out pay-as-you-throw trials in five local authority areas next year (see related story).

Earlier this month, the Conservatives called for households to be offered cash incentives to recycle (see related story).

Kate Martin

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