Councils were muted in their reaction to the Government consultation on setting up consistent household recycling services, despite earlier hostility.
Isobel Darby, lead member for enhancing quality of life at the District Councils Network (DCN), said: “The resources and waste strategy would see significant new financial burdens placed on district councils, particularly with the consideration of removing chargeable garden waste services. Compelling evidence of the value for money and environmental benefits should be provided before any changes are decided and implemented.
“In addition, the Government must recognise and address the impact that manufacturers and reprocessors have on our ability, as collection authorities, to deliver a consistent service. There must be an end-to-end approach, with all parties responsibilities taken into consideration.”
Last autumn, the Local Government Association, which represents English councils, rejected the idea of a uniform national recycling collection scheme as an interference with local decision-making.
But its environment spokesman Martin Tett, Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said only of today’s consultation: “We are clear … that any changes to waste services and additional cost burdens on councils, who are already under enormous financial pressure, need to be fully funded.”
The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee said it was disappointed that the consultation appeared to assume that residents are confused by differences in the way materials are collected.
It said any confusion lay in some materials being collected in some places but not others, rather than in the way the system operated in any one locality.
Chair Carole Taylor said: I would urge all local authorities to take the time to properly consider these hugely important consultations and respond meaningfully to them. The outputs from these consultations could shape local authority waste services for the next 20 years, so we need to get them right and working for local residents.”
Ian Fielding, chair of the waste group Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport, said: “We are concerned about the proposed introduction of free garden waste collection. This will almost certainly increase the amount of waste dealt with by local authorities and increase costs.
“Similarly, we are not convinced that mandatory food waste collections will always provide the best solution across individual local authorities.
“The burden of dealing with ever increasing volumes of waste has fallen squarely on local authorities without comparable moves to increase resources.”
Clyde Loakes, chair of the North London Waste Authority, said: ”It is important to ensure residents have systems that work for them and are easy to understand. Our recycling contracts cover a wide range of materials to maximise opportunities for recycling residents’ waste. But the Government needs to be careful not to impose uniformity only for the sake of uniformity.”
David Palmer-Jones, chief executive of Suez Recycling and Recovery UK, said: “Achieving a more harmonised system of collections should result from agreeing full net cost recovery producer responsibility schemes, to introduce a more consistent set of recyclable materials that can be harvested from all households and businesses.
“This should be accompanied by more consistent, clearer labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle, to push up recycling rates.
“The more harmonised the entire system can become, from start to finish, the clearer and easier recycling will be for consumers.”
He said a correctly implemented scheme of full net cost recovery producer responsibility “could provide better funding for council and commercial waste collections, and sorting services, and help with the cost of transition towards new systems.
Palmer-Jones said Suez welcomed the Government’s proposal for mandatory separate food waste collections.
Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association said: “The government’s commitment to funding weekly food waste collections for all households in England is fantastic news for the UK’s efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change.
“The sooner universal food waste collections can be implemented the better, given the benefits to the environment and to council budgets.”