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Variable charges could backfire

If variable charging is introduced in areas with commingled collections it could have a detrimental effect on the recycling market, the Campaign for Real Recycling (CRR) has warned.

This follows predictions that the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Waste Strategy will include an option to have variable charging waste schemes.

The CRR supports variable charging in principle because financial incentives to encourage recycling will help increase capture rates. But this is only applicable when there is some level of sorting.

Problems could arise in areas with a commingled collection, where households attempt to reduce their residual collection charges by putting unsuitable waste in recycling bins. This would increase contamination, which is an issue that material recycling facilities (MRF) and reprocessors already deal with. 

Berryman Glass south east area recycling manager Brian Head said: Collection systems where the workers are unable to operate any form of quality control prior to loading materials onto the vehicle will surely collect more of what should have been residual waste.

Novelis national manager Andy Doran said: Variable charging needs to be part of an integrated approach that accounts for both quantity and quality.

Applied to commingled collections, it will mean more tonnage into the MRF, so the authority will pay more in gate fees, but without a proportional increase in recycling diversion for the money spent.


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