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No takers for pilot "pay-as-you-throw" waste schemes

No councils have come forward to pilot pay-as-you-throw waste schemes, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The controversial PAYT scheme, also known as the financial incentive scheme has been rejected by councils across the country.

The pilot would have seen up to five councils run PAYT schemes which reward householders who recycle the most and charge extra to those who leave the most rubbish out.

A Defra spokeswoman said: If any local authorities wish to discuss financial incentives schemes with us or the Waste & Resources Action Programme we are happy to do so.

The powers in the Climate Change Act can still enable five local authorities to volunteer and take up the PAYT scheme.

Local authorities were asked to apply to the PAYT scheme in April 2009 but Defra has received no expressions of interest for the scheme.

Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee chair Joy Blizzard told MRW: I suspect many would like to make sure that they have a comprehensive recycling scheme in place before taking it to the next level. For instance, if one is not collecting plastics they might want to get that in place before taking it to the next level.

Borough of Poole Councillor Don Collier disagreed with Blizzard. He said: It is a silly idea and I am not surprised nobody has picked it up because it will cause tension in the community as people are worried that their neighbours will steal their bin space and put rubbish in their bins.

He also said that waste services were combined within council tax and people expect it as a service. He added: Why would they want to pay again for this service?

The Local Government Association said that it was unsurprising that no councils had come forward to take part in the pilots given that Defra had not published its rules for how they must operate.

Somerset Waste Partnership managing director Steve Read explained My personal view is that it is a very political question. I think many local authorities are wary of the potential negative reaction towards the idea of introducing PAYT, which has been strongly pilloried by sections of the press.  Not surprisingly local authorities are reluctant to go down that route and draw attention that is unlikely to be constructive.

There isnt much incentive to go down this route if local authorities have a comprehensive recycling service that is already working with the aid of restrictions on bin size or frequency of collections. Fortnightly refuse collections usually drive around a 15 per cent improvement in recycling, similar to the results of PAYT schemes in the USA and elsewhere in Europe. I think its unlikely that youd get an aggregate benefit by doing both.

He added that local authorities tend to seek ways to work with the community and not take risks with penalty schemes that could be highly unpopular. He said that adding PAYT to schemes that already have fortnightly refuse collection could be a bridge too far.

I have always thought that capacity restriction is socially equitable you get broadly the same sized bin to use whatever your postcode or income. With PAYT, those who can afford to avoid recycling could buy themselves out of the trouble of doing so. Thats an interesting issue politically and economically as a contrast to how markets usually work. But its a situation most people seem to accept as fair.

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