Councils snub ‘pay as you throw’ trials

No local councils have come forward to pilot financial incentive schemes to encourage households to recycle more, the Environment Department (DEFRA) has confirmed.

Voluntary powers to enable such trials feature in the Climate Change Act. It allows up to five councils to charge or reward people according to the amount of unrecycled waste a household produces. The schemes would have been revenue-neutral, with extra charges paying for the rewards.

The news is a blow to the Department which had been urging councils to participate and had offered funding.

In July last year the House of Commons’ Communities and Local Government select committee warned councils were unlikely to want to set up a complex charging scheme that earns "no money and risks widespread public disapproval" (ENDS Report 390, p 50 ). Households would see it as an extra charge for a refuse collection service already paid for through council tax, it said.

The Local Government Association had argued that the proposals were complex, difficult to administer and too prescriptive. Local authorities were also concerned over the set-up costs of such schemes (ENDS Report 392, p 50 ).

The deadline DEFRA set for applications expired in January. Future trials, however, have not been ruled out. DEFRA said the powers were still there and if councils wanted to trial a scheme it would be happy to consider it.

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