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Recycling funding for English councils ‘unlikely’

The UK Government is unlikely to follow the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales in offering more funding to councils to boost recycling, according to WRAP.

At a debate in the House of Commons on 28 February, WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said Welsh councils has managed to make “significant” savings from boosting their recycling provision, including the introduction of separate food collections.

Gover also denied that his organisation has been affected adversely by central Government cuts in recent years, falling from £28m in 2013 to £12m now, and said WRAP has prioritised putting its remaining resources into food waste.

His comments came while being interviewed by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) scrutiny committee. Conservative MP Simon Hart asked whether the UK Government was being resistant to following Wales and Scotland’s lead on recycling.

Gover replied: “If you want local authorities to change their service, then providing funding to them is a very good way of making it happen quickly, which is the approach that Wales has taken.

“There are 22 local authorities in Wales, there are 53, I think, in Scotland and around 350 in England. The scale is huge and the funding requirement would be huge.

“I am not sure that is going to be possible in England, hence our approach about trying to make a business case – and there is a business case.”

But at a previous Efra meeting, Hampshire County Council assistant director for waste James Potter said that a Defra official had indicated to members of the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers that cash might be available.

In the latest household waste figures for 2015, Scotland and Wales showed increased recycling rates while England, and the UK, dropped for the first time.

While English councils have warned that they may have to cut back recycling provision due to reduced funding, those in the devolved administrations have been given ring-fenced financial support.

WRAP’s own funding from the Government has dropped by more than 50% in recent years, but Gover said the organisation had decreased its spending on food waste initiatives only by 20%.

He said: “In the current times, we all have to do more with less, so we have to play our part as effectively as we can with as little as we can.

“As much as I would say I would like more money, I think our funding is correct at the current time and we can do a lot with that. If someone was going to offer more funding, I would say probably not for us but perhaps to help others take action.”

Gover was also asked whether mandatory food waste reduction targets were necessary, but he said voluntary agreements were effective if “done well”.

  • Pictured: Gover (right) and programme manager Andrew Parry

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