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Recycling 'not about taxing people more but about creating the right incentives'

Maximising recycling potential is not about taxing people more but about creating the right incentives for them to act.

This is the view of Local Government Association Environment Board chairman councillor David Sparks who was responding to Government council tax advisor Sir Michael Lyons’ decision to consider charging people different amounts for the types and quantities of waste they throw away.

He said: “Local councils have pioneered imaginative ways of dealing with and reducing waste. Meeting the EU Landfill Directive however will impose considerable costs on councils and will require consumers to radically change behaviour and recycle more.

“Local authorities need a power to charge for waste to introduce locally appropriate incentive schemes to change the way people deal with the things they throw away. It is not about taxing more, it is about creating the right incentives.”

Sir Michael Lyons has been looking into a number of user charges including the possibility of an environmental tax which would be paid on top of council tax to make the cost of services more visible.

If he recommends such a move, councils could feasibly charge residents for the amount of waste they produce or slash charges for greener households or those who separate their waste.

But Sparks believes it is important that any changes are made in the wider context of how local government is financed and feels that local authorities are already delivering on the mantra ‘act local, think global’.

He added: “Councils have worked hard and are looking at new ways to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and are now striving across the entire waste sector to find ways of cutting unnecessary packaging and reducing the amount of waste that cannot be recycled.

“But ultimately we must make sure less waste is produced in the first place and that people recycle more.”

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