Government moves on recycling credits, plans

The value of recycling credits paid by waste disposal authorities (WDAs) when materials are removed from the household waste stream for recycling will double from April 1994, the Government has announced. And English local authorities which have yet to prepare recycling plans have been warned that the Government may force them to do so.

Both moves signal the Government's determination to reach its target of recycling half of the country's recyclable household waste by the end of the century.

Recycling credits were introduced under section 52 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in April (ENDS Report 206, p 37 ). In broad terms, they comprise payments by WDAs to waste collection authorities equivalent to half the average cost of disposing of waste when materials are recovered from the waste stream for recycling.

The full savings potentially available to WDAs have not been passed on to collection authorities because many of the WDAs' disposal contracts are too inflexible to allow them to reduce their own costs when less household waste is generated for disposal. However, WDAs were advised by the Government earlier this year to modify their contracts so that they, too, can save money as a result of recycling.

On 30 September, the junior Environment Minister with responsibility for recycling, Lord Strathclyde, notified WDAs that they have until 1 April 1994 to make the necessary modifications to their contracts. From that date, recycling credits will be based on the full long-run marginal costs of disposal.

Lord Strathclyde followed up on 15 October by announcing that the Government "will not hesitate" to use its powers under the 1990 Act to oblige waste collection authorities to prepare recycling plans if the outstanding plans are not submitted soon.

Only about 50 English local authorities complied with the Government's request that they should submit their recycling plans in draft by 1 August. Towards the end of August the figure had increased to 247. By 15 October, 296 draft plans had been submitted - leaving 70 still outstanding.

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