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Communities could take ownership of waste collections under proposed Right to Challenge legislation

Community recycling organisations and local communities could soon take ownership of waste collection rounds in their areas, under Right to Challenge proposals outlined in a new consultation.

Launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) the Proposals to introduce a Community Right to Challengeconsultation asks stakeholders for their views on the Community Right to Challenge, which allows communities to bid for ownership of local government services.

The consultation asks how the right might operate, information required in expressions of interest and which services to include, one of which is likely to be waste collections.

The consultation document specifically states: “The Bill applies the community right to challenge only to services which are provided by, or on behalf of, relevant authorities. It does not apply to functions of relevant authorities. For example, decisions on planning applications would be a function, but waste collection is a service.”

London Community Resource Network chief executive Matthew Thomson told MRW that there was a growing likelihood of communities taking over waste collection operations: “There are cases up and down the country, especially in high density settings, where people are taking control of their own resource streams. It will become more and more likely to happen as people wake up to the true value of the resources that they currently pay to have taken away.” 

“Community assertion of control over existing or planned collection services will be able to deliver 25% or more savings to current waste budgets in some authorities. These savings can be delivered through realisation of resource value that is often currently absorbed within contractor or authority budgets.”

Thomson added that the key to preventing competition with large waste management companies would be co-ordinated working, he said: “I would hope that innovative partnerships can be built which bring the disposal strengths of waste companies, with their attendant planning requirements, together with the value focus of communities engaging in collection and sustainable resource management.”

However, Thomson warned that the biggest barrier to community recycling was the issue of waste ownership.

He said: “The main impediment is the assertion by Waste Disposal Authorities of jurisdiction over every gram of resource that has finished being used in a household. This will be challenged, with or without the new powers proposed in the Localism Bill.

The Community Right to Challenge was first introduced in the Localism Bill, which is currently being scrutinised by Parliament.

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