Recycling consultation: Minister calls for focus on poor performers

Consultation proposals for recycling and composting targets for 2007/08 were released this week, with Minister Ben Bradshaw calling for local authority targets to be frozen except for those whose targets are already at the lowest level.

In this view, the lowest performing councils would have their targets raised from 18% to 20% while all other authorities would remain the same.

He said that longer term targets would be dealt with in the review of the Waste Strategy 2000.

The current targets for local authorities run until March 2006 and are designed to deliver the government’s target to recycle or compost at least 25% of household waste by 2005. Further targets, for 30% by 2010 and 33% by 2015, were also set out in the 2000 strategy.

In this week’s consultation the Minister outlined four basic options:

  • set targets equal to current 2005/06 targets;

  • freeze targets for all except the worst performers;

  • set higher statutory targets for 2007/08 and remove the 30% cap on the highest recycling targets;

  • do nothing at all!

    Mr Bradshaw said: “My preferred option would be to raise the lowest targets from 18 – 20% for 2007/08. Not only would we maintain the current momentum on recycling and composting but it would also allow us to focus on some of the poorest performing authorities.”

    “We aim to take these proposals forward in the short term as we consider the longer-term direction of recycling in our review of Waste Strategy 2000.”

    The targets outlined fall far short of those called for by Friends of the Earth in September. The group then called on the government to give councils new powers to charge householders according to the amount of waste they produced instead of the existing charge in their council tax.

    That way, ‘good’ recyclers would pay less, and ‘bad’ recyclers would pay more. This variable charging is common in countries with high rates of recycling.

    In response to the latest consultation, the group has called for higher long-term targets to be set to encourage all local authorities to do better and point out that many European countries have rates of recycling in excess of 55%. A 2010 UK target of 50% should now be set, the group says.

    In addition to the recycling consultation, Mr Bradshaw announced that the Waste Implementation Programme (WIP) would also run for another two years as it had helped local authorities meet their targets.

    David Hopkins

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