The growing practice of councils charging householders for disposal of their DIY waste – and the broader role of household recycling centres – is to be reviewed under the Government’s new litter strategy.
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As MRW has previously reported, more councils believe that DIY is ‘waste other than household’ and are charging accordingly at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).
But the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) insists such waste should be classed as household if it arises from work that a resident would normally carry out.
The new strategy, prepared by DCLG, Defra and the Department for Transport, reasserts the Government’s view on DIY waste and also suggests that small businesses could use HWRCs, possibly making them more cost-effective.
The strategy document sets out the current position on HWRCs: “There is a long‑established precedent of free access for local residents to deposit household waste at HWRCs and this is now reflected in regulations brought into force in 2015. This service enables residents to dispose of their household waste without charge and reduces the risk of fly‑tipping and backyard burning.”
But it adds: “The Government’s view is clear: DIY waste is classed as household waste if it results from work a householder would normally carry out.”
A press release issued with the strategy is blunter, saying the measures include “stopping councils from charging householders for disposal of DIY household waste at civic amenity sites”.
A section on commercial use indicates that the Government wants to encourage local authorities to consider whether HWRCs and other bring‑bank recycling facilities could be adapted to accept waste and recycling from local traders or small businesses.
The report says: “A number of less cost‑efficient sites are currently under threat of closure, but the revenues generated [by] accepting waste from small businesses could help provide the funds needed to keep them open.”
The Government will liaise with WRAP and councils to:
- Explore further ways of managing these services to facilitate access by small businesses
- Review current guidance to ensure this reflects changes in the law and to make clear what can and cannot be charged for at HWRCs (including in respect of DIY waste)
- Explore ways of managing HWRC services to facilitate access for local householders (and their waste other than household waste) and for small businesses at proportionate cost. Revised guidance will be published by the end of 2017
Departments will also work with WRAP to consider issues specific to two-tier authorities whereby “inefficient transfers of cost between waste collection and waste disposal authorities can hinder joint working and good management of waste and recycling services”.
The litter strategy was unveiled by environment secretary Andrea Leadsom, who said everyone was affected by antisocial activity such as fly-tipping.
“Our litter strategy will tackle this antisocial behaviour by building an anti-litter culture, making it easier for people to dispose of rubbish and hitting litter louts in the pocket. We want to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it, and tackling litter is an important part of our drive to make the country a better place to live and visit.”
Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said education was vital: ”Our children and young people are the key to making littering a thing of the past. Learning about litter and its impacts, as part of their wider environmental education, must be a central pillar of the concerted effort needed to tackle the problem once and for all.”
Under the new measures, litterers could face £150 fines while vehicle owners could receive penalty notices when it can be proved that litter was thrown from their car – even if it was discarded by somebody else.
Other proposals include:
- New guidance for councils on creative designs and better distribution of public litter bins, making it easier for people to discard rubbish
- Offenders on community sentences, including people caught fly-tipping, help councils clear up litter and fly-tipped waste
- Addressing the 25 worst hotspots on the road network
- Educating children to lead the fight against litter through an increased number of ‘eco-schools’ and greater participation in national clean-up days
- An expert group to look at further ways of cutting the worst kinds of litter, including plastic bottles and drinks containers, cigarette ends and fast food packaging
Consultation on proposed penalties for environmental offences closes on 18 June.