At the beginning of April, Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) reopened the debate around the introduction of a pay-as-you-throw scheme in the UK.
J&B works with a number of local authorities, processing kerbside waste from across the North East and Yorkshire, and if the PAYT system were to come in to operation, householders would be charged for their general waste by weight, whilst recycling bins would be collected for free or at a reduced rate.
The idea of the scheme is to help boost recycling rates, in order to help reach the ambitious EU targets that have been set for the UK to reach by 2020.
So what is the likelihood of the PAYT system being rolled out across the rest of the UK? and how easily will it be to persuade people to accept the new system?
Mark Penny, J&B Recycling’s Commercial manager, explores what the system will mean for the households and small businesses in the North East.
He said: “There are definitely pros and cons to the proposed system of pay-as-you-throw.
“If people are being charged for the weight of their general waste, it is a definite incentive for recycling as people are going to be more likely to segregate their waste to keep the weight down and save money.
“Yet for this to properly work, stricter rules would need to be put in place to ensure that recycling bins weren’t contaminated.
“For all those people who would be putting the correct waste in to the recycling bin, there would be people who would contaminate their recycling bin in order to keep the weight of their general waste down.
“Currently the cost of emptying bins and processing the waste for households comes from the council tax whereas small businesses are charged per bin that they have emptied.
“Naturally the argument will be that people are already paying for waste collections therefore it would be very important that local authorities either educate residents on what their money would be spent on instead, or ensure that there is a noticeable reduction in monthly council tax costs if they recycle more.”
As it stands, households don’t need to worry about changes to their bin collections. In order for the ‘pay-as-you-throw’ scheme to come in to operation in the UK, changes in the law would be required as councils are currently banned from charging people for particular types of waste.
Mark added: “For some countries who have rolled out PAYT, the system has proven to be effective, dramatically reducing the tonnage of general waste produced each year and increasing the recycling rates.
“Quite a large worry with the scheme if it's introduced in the UK is that it may lead to an increase in illegal dumping of waste or contamination of recycling bins, by businesses and residents who are unprepared to pay for their waste to be removed. This would lead to local authorities having to fork out large amounts of money to manage any growing issues of fly tipping, potentially more money than the system will save in the first place.
“In addition I think for it to be introduced the councils in question would need to offer recycling collections for both food waste and green waste, as both those types of waste are heavy and would increase the weight of the general waste if they had to be included because there was no alternative solution”
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