In December 2018, Defra launched the Resources and Waste Strategywhich aimed to set out how the country can minimise waste, promote resource efficiency and move towards a circular economy.
The strategy touches on a number of functions that are the responsibility of local authorities, including food waste collection and recycling for households and businesses.
The Committee inquiry will look at the financial implications of the proposals for local authorities to meet increased standards for waste management.
It will also consider how appropriate a standardised approach to waste services will be, or if there are benefits for allowing a degree of local flexibility.
With budgets shrinking, and acute challenges elsewhere, is there capacity to tackle increased demands on waste services?
The Committee will also investigate how joint-working between layers of local government with responsibility for waste can be improved.
Launching the inquiry, Committee Chair Clive Betts MP said: “It is important that there is a comprehensive strategy to increase the levels of recycling. But ahead of placing greater responsibilities on local authorities we must first look at their ability to meet them. With budgets shrinking, and acute challenges elsewhere, is there capacity to tackle increased demands on waste services?
“We will also be looking at how appropriate a one-size-fits-all approach will be, and if there would be benefits to allowing local authorities some flexibility to meet the specific waste challenges in their area.”
The Committee is inviting submissions on:
- What the financial implications are for local authorities of the Government’s Waste Strategy.
- What the likely effects will be on the recycling rates of local authorities.
- How provisions in the strategy may affect existing contracts for waste collection and disposal.
- Should waste services be standardised across England or should there continue to be flexibilities for local authorities.
- What the opportunities are for closer joint-working between authorities, particularly in two-tier areas.
[UPDATE 25 March 14:15]
Adam Read, external affairs director at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “DCLG is right to check on the range of consultations underway to ensure local authorities have the capacity to tackle increased demand on waste and recycling systems – a consideration which lies at the heart of DEFRA’s interlinked proposals.
“These could in part be funded by industry through extended producer responsibility schemes for packaging and raise between £0.5bn and £1bn a year for recycling and disposal. This would see industry pay higher fees if their products are harder to reuse, or recycle and incentivise more sustainable designs.
Adam Read – “Achieving a more harmonised system of collections should result from agreeing full net cost recovery producer responsibility schemes, to introduce a more consistent set of recyclable materials that can be harvested from all households and businesses.”
“DEFRA has also made it clear that it does not intend a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ for all local authority domestic waste and recycling collections, rather the “flexibility” DCLG questions is an option DEFRA has put forward couched rather within an approach to ‘harmonise’ collection systems. Simplification is the aim, reducing the number of systems based on a local authority’s housing DNA, rather than reducing to one system for the whole country.
“Achieving a more harmonised system of collections should result from agreeing full net cost recovery producer responsibility schemes, to introduce a more consistent set of recyclable materials that can be harvested from all households and businesses. This should be accompanied by more consistent, clearer labelling on packaging so consumers know what they can recycle, to push up recycling rates.
“The more harmonised the entire system can become, from start to finish, the clearer and easier recycling will be for consumers.”