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Central Government targets "stifle innovation and lock in particular technologies"

Central targets may hinder long term waste objectives according to a report funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Carried out by researchers from the Open University, the report found regulatory and economic pressures imposed by central government could lead to local waste partnerships prioritising short-term targets. It also found that large scale centralised facilities, such as those developed under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), may "stifle innovation" as they "lock" authorities into particular technologies. Jim Frederickson from the OU team carrying out the research said: "Performance targets can lead to perverse outcomes. The introduction of free garden waste collections is an example of what can be, a relatively easy gain in meeting targets to improve recycling rates even though this can increase the overall amount of waste collected. "By contrast, community sector representatives can have difficulties in engaging local authorities support for projects to reuse furniture because reuse activities did not contribute to recycling targets." The report, Delivering Sustainable Technologies for Waste: Improving Uptake Through Partnership, found that partnership working encourages learning and understanding. It added that successful partnership working can improve services in ways that would have been difficult to achieve working in isolation. However, the report warned that partnerships formed to access central government funding that dont have a shared history and sense of trust are not likely to be successful at joint working. Frederickson added: "Government tries to promote many many different things and one of the things they try to promote is localism and working with the community sector more. "The waste sector has really good examples of this and we feel that that whole idea is greatly being squeezed these days, because of the targets that the local authorities are having to meet - because they are so focussed on efficiency gains."

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