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English councils reject standardised household collections

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, has rejected the idea of a uniform national recycling collection scheme.

Environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) recently called for Government intervention to end what it called a “barmy” mass of different local approaches to recycling.

It said there were more than 150 local waste management systems and it was unsurprising that recycling rates had flatlined, given the public confusion this created. KBT called for the creation of a nationally consistent service, funded by contributions from manufacturers.

But in response the LGA said: ”Our current view is no one size would work.”

Most councils are locked into long-term waste contracts, and are highly sensitive about anything that would appear to reduce their powers and hand them to central Government.

LGA environment spokesman Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “Recycling has been a real success story for councils and residents. Rates have quadrupled in the past decade and millions of tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfill.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to waste collection services, and councils always work with householders to offer the best service possible.

“We know this local approach works because our polling shows eight out of 10 people are happy with the way their local council collects their rubbish.”

The Welsh and Scottish administrations have already implemented standardised collection methods across local authorities to some degree.

The forthcoming resources and waste strategy is expected to establish a system of harmonised collections across England, after years of work by WRAP on the matter.

Environment secretary Michael Gove told the BBC’s Gardeners’ World programme recently that he wanted to see more consistent kerbside recycling.

Gove said: “There is a wide array of different rules and regulations on recycling depending on where you are in the country.

“One of the things that we hope to do…is to bring a degree of coherence so that, across the country, wherever you are, you will know how to recycle and make it easier and clearer for everyone to do the right thing.”

KBT’s action plan Breaking Bad Habits: Moving Towards a Zero Waste Society said that numerous studies had “demonstrated that the public are confused when it comes to managing household waste, having to contend not only with a complex array of packaging materials but also a bewildering landscape of collection systems comprising multi-coloured boxes, bins and bags.

“It is perhaps not surprising that our recycling rates have flatlined. We want to see the development of a standardised national recycling system, collecting a consistent set of easily recycled packaging materials.”

Chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton said, “The public has a huge role to play in helping to drive this change. But we need to get rid of the existing complexity and develop a simple, nationally consistent collection system combined with tangible rewards to encourage better recycling.”



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