Potential pay-as-you-throw schemes explored

The Local Government Association has revealed proposals outlining how householders could be charged according to the amount of waste they produced.

Although such pay-as-you-throw schemes have been successfully adopted in several European states, where they have led to a marked reduction in waste levels, they have proved a controversial subject in the UK and tabloid scare stories about the ‘bug in your bin’ abound.

While a microchip in each bin is one of the options put forward by the LGA, the only ‘spying’ it would do would be to give the address of that bin so its owners could be charged, by weight, for the waste they produce.

The other schemes on the table include a pay-per-bag scheme where households are charged per refuse sack or a pay-by-volume option where people decide what size wheelie bin they require and pay accordingly.

The LGA has also reiterated its position that ‘save as you throw’ schemes, as it likes to refer to them, would never be used as a stealth tax and would not raise extra revenue for those councils which adopted them – merely share the cost of waste collection more equitably.

By creating a financial incentive to produce less waste, such schemes would encourage people to throw away less and recycle more, the argument goes.

Opponents cite the possible loss of privacy from the local council knowing how much rubbish you throw away and the risk of increased flytipping and neighbour disputes.

Councils in England, 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.

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.”

Sam Bond

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