LARAC calls for 'radical rethink' of household waste collection funding model

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
LARAC argue reliance on the current revenue support system is not sustainable

The waste sector needs a radical rethink of how and who funds household collections, according to LARAC.

In a new policy paper published today (11/4/18), LARAC drew up a series of points on the future of local authority waste and recycling funding.

These included redesigning producer responsibility, encouraging citizens to become more focused on their purchasing and recycling habits via a direct charging system and ensuring adequate funds are available to local authorities to expand collection services.

LARAC argued reliance on the current revenue support system is not sustainable and that without a complete overhaul of the finance system, high recycling levels of household waste are unachievable.

Among the higher ranked suggestions were:

Direct charging system

LARAC suggested charges should be decoupled from council tax and instead a system of direct charging schemes should be set up to hold residents responsible and influence behavioral changes.

The majority of direct charging schemes around the world are funded through flat rate fees or taxes, variable pricing element set by choice of container size, number of sacks, collection frequency of weight or material collected.

Deposit return scheme (DRS)

Although LARAC acknowledged a DRS can increase recycling levels and reduce littering in some countries, it argued these countries did not have a “mature kerbside collection service”.

The paper argued a DRS would put financial strains on local authorities by removing higher quality material from kerbside collections.

Therefore it states that the current collection infrastructure is the more effective way to increase drink container recycling.

Producer compliance

It will be of little surprise the paper included a section on the PRN system, stating the current scheme as least effective for funding local authorities.

Because producers are not fully meeting the cost recovering of their packaging, a further £600 million is being placed on local authorities every year to deal with the waste, according to LARAC.

Therefore it has now argued for a major producer responsibility reform which sees producers funding more than 10% of the costs of household waste and promotes designing with recyclability in mind.

Alognside the headline points, LARAC also made a series of other recommendations to spark debate.

These included consistencies in collection systems, clearer recycling messages on packaging and taxes on some materials or products.

It also advised against local authorities introducing incineration tax, reward schemes and statutory targets.

Carole Taylor, LARAC chair, said: “Millions of pounds of public money is used each year to build and run waste services but after years of austerity the current funding model is no longer fit for purpose.

“We need to decouple the provision of waste services from council tax and move it to something that the supply chain and users are responsible for. This will mean some difficult conversations across industry and consideration of thorny policy areas, but it is time to grasp those particular nettles.”

The full report can be seen here.

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