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Further cuts could prompt more compulsory schemes

Further cuts to council budgets could lead to more authorities looking at compulsory recycling schemes, according to the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac).

Luton has said it will consider bringing in a compulsory scheme, including charges for non-compliant residents, in an effort to boost recycling rates and save on landfill tax.

It could join London borough councils, including Islington and Barnet, which took advantage of special powers for authorities in the capital to issue fixed penalty notices of up to £110 for putting recyclates in black bags.

Larac chief executive Lee Marshall has told MRW that, while he does not see a trend currently, more councils could explore introducing a compulsory scheme if funding from central Government is cut further.

He said: “If part of the reason why Luton is looking at this is the financial aspect – and we do see more cuts in local government funding, which we believe there will be in the next four years – then it may be something more councils consider.”

This could be difficult for councils, Marshall added, because the Government would not favour an increase in compulsory schemes due to its philosophy of “reward rather than penalise”.

Central Government will be under increasing pressure to drive up household recycling rates, which are stalling in England, to hit EU targets of 50% by 2020 and 65% by 2030.

Compulsory schemes could be a useful tool for the UK if it did change its strategy, with the London Borough of Hackney reporting an initial 20% rise in recycling tonnages in some areas when it took that course in 2006.

The borough also reported rises in recycling rates outside targeted residential zones, showing a knock-on effect.

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