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London borough loses ‘effective’ enforcement tool

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has said it lost an “effective enforcement tool” after giving up its compulsory recycling scheme last year.

Many councils in the capital previously implemented regimes that included fines for residents who did not recycle, under the London Local Authorities Act 2007.

But the Deregulation Act 2015 reduced the level of fixed penalty notices for non-compliance from £110 to £60 and the process for doing so changed, prompting Hammersmith & Fulham to end its scheme.

A council spokesperson said it had previously used fixed penalty notices to inform residents about presenting and storing their waste, including the separation of materials.

The regime was considered a “very effective” in ensuring residents put out their rubbish and recycling at the correct times but are now deemed part of an unwieldy process. But financial penalties can be used in individual cases, the spokesperson added.

“One of the benefits of the notices was they allowed us to prosecute those who did not comply. The deregulatory bill means we have lost a key enforcement tool but as such that means we are now exploring other methods of engagement with the community and other ways of enforcing.”

The council works closely with other London boroughs to explore ways to engage residents, including incentive schemes, although the spokesperson said there had not been a notable increase in non-compliance since the scheme was dropped.

Hammersmith & Fulham announced the extension of such a programme on 3 February, to include 32 housing estates in the borough.

The Estates Recycling Challenge is aimed at residents of 9,000 properties in blocks of flats that typically produce low levels of engagement with recycling.

MRW contacted all 32 of London’s boroughs. Of those that replied, three said they still operated such schemes while 13 did not.

Hackney, which reported a large initial increase in compliance with its compulsory scheme in 2006, no longer has one.

It said that while the scheme was useful in increasing compliance for kerbside collections, its focus was now on blocks or estates with communal facilities where such enforcement would be difficult.

Like Brent, which continues to operate such a scheme, Hackney said it had never taken any enforcement action but used the penalties as a deterrent.

 

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