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Heading down quantity street

There is one issue on everybodys lips at the moment in the waste industry the proposed pay-as-you-throw scheme. It has proved a controversial topic, since the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that it will allow local authority pilot initiatives to go ahead. The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has been campaigning to introduce the pay-as-you throw scheme for the past three years. Chair Lee Marshall said: We want to have the power to charge or incentivise so local authorities can use it. It is not a duty but a choice. However, one of our major concerns was the way they (Government) were proposing it - it will not work if it is too bureaucratic. The scheme should be designed to be as unbureaucratic as possible. The system should be efficient and easy for residents to use. As part of the first proposals for the Climate Change Bill, Defra has appealed for five local authorities to take part in pay-as-you throw pilot schemes. If passed by MPs, the Bill would give councils the power to charge households according to the amount of waste they leave for collection. Critics such as Conservative Party spokesman Eric Pickles have said that the scheme is a stealth tax and would harm the environment by leading to a surge in fly tipping and back yard burning. Marshalls denies this. Sometimes the public do not realise that authorities are dealing with the problem of the products that they purchase. They need to change their behaviour as much as possible. This scheme is open to each local authority on an individual level one system may not be the best method to roll out across the whole country. The Local Government Association (LGA) agrees with LARACs support for charging households according to how much rubbish they produce. A spokesman said: The principle is really a good idea - as long as it is not a stealth tax for local authorities to raise extra cash. But the measures also need the support of the public in the area and it needs to go side by side with a crack down on fly-tipping. So what do some of the public think? According to a recent Ipsos Mori survey, 38% strongly support the idea of being charged directly for the amount of household rubbish they produce. The LGA proposed three different schemes in which councils in England could find effective in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. The first being a sack based system, in which households buy different sized pre-paid sacks or special tags to go on bin bags from their council. The second being wheelie bins fitted with microchips to allow bins to be weighed as they are loaded onto refuse vehicles. Householders would then be sent a bill for the amount of non-recyclable waste they throw out. The final proposal was that households would be charged according to the size of the wheelie bin they choose for the amount of waste they thought they would generate. Other European countries such as Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have implemented the scheme. The LGA looked at a system based in Holland, Maastricht, where it found that the household waste had fallen dramatically and waste separation increased from 45% to 65%. We need to look at what has happened in other European countries and learn from them. We have to see what works in these countries and then adopt them in this country, said Marshall. Problems highlighted by critics of this scheme are the same problems that were first highlighted abroad when they started their schemes. We need to put more efforts into the solutions than highlighting the problems. There are solutions to all of these problems and it is just a matter of finding them, added Marshall.

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