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Bristol to lead the way with waste incentive scheme

Bristol City Council has become the first authority in the country to apply for the Governments financial waste incentive scheme.

Following a series of discussions and meetings with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Waste & Resources Action Programme, the city council is taking a formal proposal to Defra on 8 March to seek funding and support for a pilot incentive scheme that would give residents the chance to receive cash incentives of up to £40 depending on how much they manage to reduce their waste.

Residents who volunteer for the trial would be issued with a chipped wheelie bin. Collection vehicles would be fitted with weighing equipment so that they can weigh the bins each week and record the weight on specialist software. The amount of waste residents need to reduce will be calculated in kilograms and worked out per person, to take into account the number of people living in a household.

Defra asked five councils to apply for the pilot in April 2009 but it had received no expressions of interest up until now.

Speaking to MRW, Member for Environment and Community Safety and Liberal Democrats Councillor Gary Hopkins said: The Lib Dems were out of the administration so could not apply when Defra first announced the plans. The administration was run by the Labour Party supported by the Conservatives and they did not apply for the scheme. We were originally out of time for the deadline last year but after reviewing our plans Defra allowed us to pursue our bid because they liked what we had to say.

There are several reasons why we embarked on this application. The difference between this and the scheme in Windsor and Maidenhead [RecycleBank] is that [Windsor and Maidenhead]  rewards people for putting out lots of recycling rather than rewarding for waste reduction. It completely ignores the people who actually reduce their waste. Whereas, this scheme encourages residents to both reduce waste and recycle.

A Defra spokesman said: We expect to receive a proposal on Monday by Bristol City Council to pilot rewarding people for reducing their waste.  We understand that people will be able to opt in to the scheme, and will consider the proposal carefully and the impacts on people and the environment before deciding whether it can go ahead.

The proposed scheme, if it goes ahead, would be run as a pilot for six months in Bishopston, Cotham and Redland.

Hopkins said: With a new waste contract due to begin in 2011, we are keen to proceed with this scheme quickly as the pilot will help us and potential contractors work out how a wider voluntary scheme could fit into the new contract. It is the first reward scheme of its kind in the UK and we believe that, with financial backing from the Government, Bristol is the right place to make it a success.

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