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Larac condemns REA and ESA reports

The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) has criticised two recent industry reports for failing to consult councils.

It said conclusions reached by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) and the Environmental Services Association (ESA) in recent weeks were flawed due to the lack of engagement.

The REA’s report The Real Economic Benefit of Separate Biowaste Collections, written by Eunomia and sponsored by Olleco, concludes that separate food waste collections are cost- effective and should be made mandatory for councils and businesses.

It claims separate collections would lead to fewer and lighter residual collections, lower landfill tax costs and cheaper gate fees at anaerobic digestion plants.

But Larac has dismissed the report as “self-serving”, and says the potential for making savings in England were much more limited than suggested.

Chair Andrew Bird (pictured) said: “The REA report calls for mandatory food waste collections in England on the back of modelling that shows the real savings come from changing residual frequency and reductions in food waste being produced in the first place, which are very optimistic, to say the least.

“It also makes no mention of the huge financial support that the Welsh and Scottish Governments have made in supporting the introduction of food waste collections in those countries or the complications that having split collection and disposal roles in two-tier areas brings to the costs allocations.”

The ESA’s report Delivering Sustainable Growth: How the Resource and Waste Management Industry Benefits People, the Environment and the Economy called for the transfer of the ownership of household waste streams from the public to the private sector under extended producer responsibility.

This prompted some to view it as a step towards privatisation, which ESA executive director Jacob Hayler said was “potentially the direction of travel”.

In response, Bird said “more talking to local authorities instead of talking at them” was needed.

“Local authorities have risen to the challenge of making services more efficient in these hard times, whether delivered directly or through outsourcing.

“To suggest that they are not, or to call for a fundamental change in how local authorities operate without engaging with us first to see how it could work and what the challenges and possible consequences are, is disappointing and a missed opportunity.”

Larac said it would be engaging with the ESA to understand better exactly how it sees the local authority role in household collections in the future, and how the two organisations could work more closely together.

It said it was keen to explore how funding from producers can be channelled to local authorities to support collections of materials in the household waste stream that fall within producer responsibility legislation.

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