Local authorities to get support on waste changes

19 Feb 19

Local authorities in England could be made to provide weekly waste collections under proposals announced by the environment secretary.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched a series of consultations to overhaul the waste system, Michael Gove announced on Monday.

Defra highlighted plans to create “separate weekly food waste collections for every household in England”, as well as free garden waste collections for households with gardens.

A consultation was also launched to simplify the “existing complicated recycling system” and look at making businesses cover the full cost of disposing of their packaging waste.

The government said that councils would receive additional resources to cover extra costs that may arise due to policy changes.

One of the consultation documents said: “Government recognises the pressures on local authorities. They will therefore receive additional resource to meet any new net costs arising from the policies set out in this consultation when implemented.”

The document also noted that “there are few current drivers to encourage local authorities to improve the way they recycle or for businesses to invest in recycling services”.

Defra’s document found that since 2001 household recycling rates in England have increased considerably, rising from 11% to 45.2% in 2017 – although this has since stagnated at around 44%.

Martin Tett, environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are playing their part when it comes to improving recycling rates with our waste collection services diverting millions of tonnes of waste from landfill every year.

“But we recognise that by working with government, there is more to be done to boost recycling to reach national targets and even higher standards.

“We are clear however that any changes to waste services and additional cost burdens on councils, who are already under enormous financial pressure, need to be fully funded.”

Plans to introduce a tax on plastic packaging that does not meet a minimum threshold of 30% recycled content were also put out for consultation.

Gove said: “Through our plans we will introduce a world-leading tax to boost recycled content in plastic packaging, make producers foot the bill for handling their packaging waste, and end the confusion over household recycling.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “Plastic packaging makes up two-thirds of all the plastic waste that pollutes this country and wreaks havoc on our environment.

“It’s our responsibility to do something about it and that’s why we will introduce a new tax on the producers of plastic packaging that don’t use enough recycled material.” 

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