Local government minister Bob Neill has called for more incentive schemes to encourage recycling.
Speaking at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management annual conference in London, the minister said DCLG’s approach to waste and recycling was about serving the “consumer” rather than the “producer interest”.
He said: “People should be embracing recycling because they want to and because they see a benefit from it, rather than from fear of being told off or worse. That’s where there is real scope for reward schemes.”
Neil said rewards for recycling could help to change people’s attitudes and position waste as a resource which can bring benefits to communities, households and the economy.
“I hope we will see more rewards schemes going forward that enable people to cotton on the value of what they’re throwing away”, he added. “And if we educate people, well informed people will instinctively want to do the right thing.”
Neill dismissed a suggestion from the floor that reward schemes could help create a generation of people who would only do what was morally correct if paid.
He said: “I’m concerned that people do the right thing for whatever reasons. I don’t think we should dismiss the fact that you can get a reward for doing the right thing.”
Most people want to do the right thing, Neill added, but it “sharpens the mind” if they are financially rewarded as well.
The minister said local people should see “direct benefits” from development of waste infrastructure. He said communities should be involved in the planning process from a much earlier stage, and stressed the importance of local authorities developing “up-to-date local plans” and identifying necessary local facilities.
Defending his department’s £250m weekly collection fund, the minister told an audibly sceptical audience that service to householders was central to DCLG’s approach to waste.
He said there was a risk that fortnightly collections could be unhygienic, and that local councils should have the right to choose their collection system without being “marked down”.
“Consumers of council services are entitled to have an input into how [their] council does those services,” he said
Neill said his department’s “radical localist approach” to collections was about meeting the objectives of “efficient collections and maximising recycling” without the coercive and punitive approaches he said had failed in the past.