ARCHIVE: Incentives for recycling and reducing household waste
Following public consultation over the summer of 2007, the Government included powers in the Climate Change Bill to pilot local authority incentive schemes for household waste minimisation and recycling.
What are incentives for waste minimisation and recycling?
The purpose of incentive schemes is to encourage and reward sustainable waste behaviour. They will not be money-raising exercises for local authorities – any additional revenue raised by authorities will be paid back in full to local tax-payers.
- The schemes will vary – depending on what each pilot local authority wishes to implement. However all will encourage householders to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste they produce and take steps to recycle/ compost: householders who do this will receive a rebate from the local authority.
- In some pilots, householders who don’t do that could pay more.
- Authorities involved in pilots will be able to integrate rebates (and charges) with the Council Tax system, should they wish to do so.
How would a local authority introduce an incentives pilot?
- Local authorities, working within the legislative framework, will design pilot schemes to best suit their local circumstances.
- Local authorities will bring their proposals for piloting an incentive scheme forward to the Government.
- The Government will approve up to five authorities to proceed with pilots.
- The Government has committed up to £1.5m per year for three years to help support the pilots.
How much control will Government have over the schemes?
Local authorities will be free to come forward with schemes they believe best deliver the needs of their communities. Authorities need the flexibility to respond to their waste management challenges with the most appropriate tools.
The Government will designate up to five authorities to proceed with pilots. Any scheme must meet the following criteria, set out in future legislation:
- Any of the pilots which involve householders paying money to the authority, must be revenue neutral - all revenue collected in must be given back to residents through rebates.
- The authority must provide householders in the scheme with a good, free kerbside recycling service. A ‘good’ recycling service will be defined further in guidance.
- Schemes must take account of the needs of groups that could potentially be disadvantaged
- The authority must have in place a strategy for preventing the unauthorised deposit or disposal of waste.
The Government has a reserve power to create in the future a cap on the level of incentive, should this be necessary.
How might a scheme work?
It would be up to authorities wishing to pilot a scheme to come forward with their own proposals for how it would work. However, similar schemes are already operating overseas, examples of which include:
- Bin volume-based scheme: householders receive a rebate for putting their waste in a smaller bin. Those who wish to use a larger bin could pay to do so.
- Weight-based scheme: bins are weighed when emptied and householders throwing away the least receive a rebate. Those throwing away most could pay more.
- Frequency-based scheme: householders receive a rebate, and could pay more, according to whether they require extra collections in addition to the pilot scheme’s standard service.
- Sack-based scheme: householders pay for sacks in which to set out their waste and everyone on the scheme receives a flat-rate rebate.
When will schemes begin and what happens next?
It is not anticipated that any pilot waste incentive scheme will begin before April 2009. We will report back to Parliament on the success of the pilots. Only once we have gathered high quality, robust evidence from the pilots will we make a decision on whether to make the powers more generally available to local authorities in England.
What are the benefits of financial incentives?
The benefits would depend very much on the nature of the scheme the authority wished to introduce. However, evidence from similar schemes overseas shows that incentives can encourage householders to increase recycling/composting, reduce waste overall and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions from, as well as lower the costs of, waste management. Recent research modelled the potential impact of such schemes in England in the future and found:
- Best types of schemes see local recycling/composting rates rise to 54%. The current average rate is 30.7%
- Schemes could lead to reductions in the amount of non-recycled waste of between 13 and 39 per cent
- In some cases authorities could achieve cost savings of up to £18 per household due to reductions in waste for disposal by the authority.
- Incentive schemes could deliver a net national cost saving of up to £94 million per year with future widespread take up.
Defra modelling suggests that with widespread future take up, the increased recycling alone could save between 500 thousand and 1 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent a year.
Page last modified:
26 June 2008
Page published: 24 May 2007