Trade waste HWRCs ‘not utopia solution’ warns LGA

Calls for local authorities to open up more household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) for trade waste presents an opportunity to raise additional revenue, but significant barriers need to be overcome.

That was the message from the Local Government Association’s environment board vice chair Cllr Clyde Loakes, speaking at a commercial waste conference in London yesterday (May 29) hosted by edieWaste and LAWR magazine.

Loakes told delegates that while a number of local authorities had opened up HWRC sites to receive trade waste, “this practice is not widespread and should not be seen as a utopia solution to SMEs.”

Before small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could gain more widespread access to HWRCs, a number of challenges would need to be overcome, he argued, not least resolving issues around capacity.

The London Borough of Waltham Forest’s deputy leader and portfolio lead member for the environment explained that many sites were already at full capacity due to recent increases in the number and volumes of household recycling streams.

“With space at a premium, many local authorities, including my own, would prefer to enhance the service to local tax payers,” he said.

“At many sites, the accommodation of business waste would require extra infrastructure and changes to site layout that may only be achievable at considerable cost.”

Loakes warned that providing additional capacity to take in trade waste might require a renegotiation of contracts. Local authorities would also have to manage the associated costs of making arrangements for longer traffic queues outside sites.

Opening up sites would also create additional costs for the administration and monitoring of commercial waste, including checking the loads of incoming material and ensuring the correct charges were applied.

As a further measure, councils would need to issue additional environmental permits so that the HWRCs could accommodate the increased volume and variety of waste and recycling streams.

In providing greater support for SMEs, Loakes called for an equal focus between local government and the waste industry, which he argued needed to do its bit to increase SME recycling by opening up its own sites to trade waste.

“We should recognise that the waste industry has a significant part to play too,” he said.

“Let’s not forget that municipal waste only makes up about 20% of the total waste processed in this country and the majority of processing capacity is owned by the commercial sector. An equal responsibility for opening up other sites for SMEs should be accepted by industries.”

Nick Warburton

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