Tougher recycling targets need funding, says LGA

31 May 07
Town hall leaders have warned that new government recycling targets will not be met without adequate government investment.

01 June 2007

Town hall leaders have warned that new government recycling targets will not be met without adequate government investment.

A waste strategy published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last week set out incentives to ensure at least 40% of household waste is recycled or composted by 2010, rising to 50% by 2020. This is almost double previous targets. In addition, the amount of household waste not reused, recycled or composted should be reduced from 22.2 million tonnes in 2000, to 12.2 million tonnes by 2020 – a reduction of 45%.

But the Local Government Association said such rates would be 'impossible' to achieve without adequate resources.

The LGA also greeted very cautiously the government's intention to remove the ban on local authorities introducing financial incentive schemes to encourage more recycling.

LGA chair Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said any councils considering introducing such a 'save as you throw' scheme would have to make sure it had the full backing of its community and would result in no increase in council tax.

'Only local authorities, working on the ground with local people, have the knowledge and experience to decide how best to encourage residents to take more responsibility for their rubbish,' Bruce-Lockhart said.

'The association will now work with its member councils on the “save as you throw” consultation to hammer out how such a scheme could work in England.'

Launching the strategy, Environment Secretary David Miliband said there was a particular challenge for business to produce less packaging with its products, so consumers had less to dispose of. 'The result will be a win for individuals, who will have a cleaner, safer local environment, while potentially saving money, and a win for the wider environment because it will reduce landfilled waste, which contributes to climate change.'

Other elements of the waste strategy include pressure on retailers to stop providing free single-use plastic bags and an agreement with the Direct Marketing Association to extend the service that allows people to opt out of receiving junk mail. Recycling bins should also be provided in a wider range of venues including shopping centres, railway stations and cinemas.

But green campaigners said the recycling targets were too conservative.

Michael Warhurst, senior waste campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said that more ambitious targets were needed. 'The government's own analysis has shown that a rate of 60% is much better for the climate… We believe that the UK should be aiming for 75% recycling by 2015.'

Eric Pickles, the Conservatives' spokesman for local government, accused ministers of introducing a 'stealth tax' and warned that the proposals risked turning councils into 'Whitehall's tax collector'.

He added: 'Now we face the prospect of chips quietly being fitted in bins across the country to spy on families without their knowledge. I fear Labour ministers are forcing town halls into levying new bin taxes, without public consent.'


Did you enjoy this article?