In its first year of existence the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) has seen 535,387 allowances change hands between waste disposal authorities (WDAs), according to information obtained by MRW through the Freedom of Information Act.
All the trades occurred between the start of the scheme on April 1 2005 and April 1 2006.
No information is currently available on whether any WDA has breached its allowance for the first year, as at the end of each scheme year there is a six month reconciliation period. WDAs currently have until the end of June to submit their end of year data to the Environment Agency (EA).
The evidence of trading was seen as positive by Waste and Resources Action Programme chief executive Jennie Price. She said: "The fact that authorities are trading is a good sign. The LATS will only work if people are willing to sell and buy and no one knew in the first year if it would work. But this is encouraging."
A more cautious response came from Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee chairman Lee Marshall. "It’s difficult to know how successful it [LATS] has been until we know whether we have achieved our targets," he said.
"Our concern is that money spent on trading could be invested in infrastructure but most authorities would be aware of that pay-off."
The LATS was developed as a tool to help local authorities in England reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill in the most cost effective way, while reassuring the Government that progress towards the EC Landfill Directive is being made. There is currently no LATS in Scotland or Wales.
According to the latest information available on the public LATS register only one WDA has chosen to borrow some of its future allowance, and none have banked any of their allowance for future years.