The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management has responded to the Government’s litter strategy. This is the reaction in full of the chief executive Colin Church.
This is a welcome plan to tackle a persistent problem that has a negative economic, environmental and social impact on our communities. It is not an easy problem to solve, and the strategy rightly focuses on exploring and developing both voluntary and regulatory measures that could apply to a range of stakeholders.
It acknowledges the challenge of providing the right infrastructure to make it easy for people to do the right thing – disposing of their litter properly and ‘recycling on the go’ – and the role of major high street retailers and brands in promoting behaviour change.
We are also pleased to see a commitment to strengthening the enforcement powers against offenders, including littering from vehicles which is a form of antisocial behaviour that has been particularly difficult for the relevant authorities to tackle. Clear messages about the potential consequences of littering are an important deterrent and have been seen to have a positive impact in other countries.
Changes to the law must not provide loopholes that allow commercial operators to avoid their waste Duty of Care and legal responsibilities
The strategy makes repeated reference to the need for enforcement to be appropriate and proportionate and CIWM agrees with this; although it should be noted that most local authorities see the use of the toughest measures very much as a last resort.
There are areas where further work and evidence is needed, particularly on the subject of how other waste management services impact on litter and fly-tipping. For example, the role and scope of charging at HRWCs for DIY waste is an ongoing discussion and it is important in the context of current budget pressures that local authorities do not end up carrying the cost for wastes that should have been borne by a contractor.
Changes to the law must not provide loopholes that allow commercial operators to avoid their waste Duty of Care and legal responsibilities.
There is a lot of work proposed on packaging and labelling and a number of private sector companies and associations have already shown a commitment to play their part. Some commentators will say that the voluntary approach is too light touch, however, so it is important that the Government remains behind the commitment expressed by Lord Gardiner in his foreword that further regulation is not being ruled out “if that is what is required to achieve real change.
Funding all the work proposed in the strategy will also be challenging and CIWM has concerns about the proposal to reduce the ring fencing of income from fixed penalty fines for environmental offences.
With priority areas such as social care taking ever larger proportions of the council budget, it is important that money can be earmarked for the effective enforcement, the infrastructure, and the communications initiatives highlighted in this strategy.