LARAC Slams Industry Reports As “Self Serving” & “Outdated”

local-authority-waste-collectionThe Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) is calling for greater industry wide collaboration and more engagement with local authorities, following recent reports published by the REA and ESA.

LARAC has dismissed a recent Renewable Energy Association (REA) report as “self-serving” and not reflective of the actual savings that might be realised by the introduction of food waste collections.

The report, published last week, concluded that in the majority of situations, food waste collected separately can save money for local authorities and businesses in the UK.

LARAC chair, Andrew Bird, said: “The REA report calls for mandatory food waste collections in England on the back of modelling that shows the real savings come from changing residual frequency and reductions in food waste being produced in the first place, which are very optimistic to say the least.

Andrew Bird, chair, LARAC
Andrew Bird, chair, LARAC

“It also makes no mention of the huge financial support Welsh and Scottish Governments have made in supporting the introduction of food waste collections in those countries or the complications that having split collection and disposal roles in two tier areas brings to the costs allocations. So the ability to realise savings from food waste collections in England are much more limited than the report suggests.”

LARAC has also expressed “dismay” that a recent Environmental Services Association (ESA) report, which it says appears to be “peddling the myth that local authority collections are inefficient”, a viewpoint that LARAC says is outdated and shows a “lack of understanding of council operations”.

Andrew Bird – “LARAC has shown itself to be willing to work closely with other parts of the sector to improve recycling and help others achieve their targets and we need more talking to local authorities instead of talking at them.”

The report, “Delivering Sustainable Growth: How the Resource and Waste Management Industry Benefits People, the Environment and the Economy”, makes four recommendations that it says would improve incentives along the supply chain, drive efficiency, lower costs—particularly to the local government sector—and deliver private investment.

It claims this is needed to ensure recycling and landfill diversion rates do not go backwards.

Bird responded to the report, saying: “Local authorities have risen to the challenge of making services more efficient in these hard times, whether delivered directly or through outsourcing. To suggest that they are not or to call for a fundamental change in how local authorities operate without engaging with us first to see how it could work and what the challenges and possible consequences are is disappointing and a missed opportunity.

ESA report
ESA report on delivering sustainable growth

“LARAC has shown itself to be willing to work closely with other parts of the sector to improve recycling and help others achieve their targets and we need more talking to local authorities instead of talking at them.”

LARAC says it is disappointed that reports looking to influence and fundamentally change the way in which local authorities operate had no engagement with local authorities themselves.

It says this has to change if the waste sector is to move forward and if it is to achieve current and future recycling targets.

LARAC says it will now engage with the ESA to understand better exactly how the Association sees the local authority role in household collections in the future and how the two organisations can work more closely together to the benefit of both sets of members.

LARAC is also keen to explore how funding from producers can be channelled to local authorities to support collections of materials in the household waste stream that fall within producer responsibility legislation.

REA Response

Jeremy Jacobs, Technical Director at the REA responded to LARAC, saying: “We completely recognise that each local authority’s circumstances are different, and all face difficult budgetary situations. Local authorities have risen to the challenges set to them by the budget cuts to date, and have done an extraordinary job of protecting public services.

“The goal of our report was to independently model the costs associated with separate biowaste collections for businesses and local authorities, and to constructively add to the discussion about waste and recycling. To move forward with the shared aim of improving waste collections and increasing recycling in the most cost effective way, collaboration will be critical.

“Our ask is that separate collections to be introduced over a multi-year timeframe, to allow councils to introduce them at the most economically sensible time – perhaps when they upgrade their fleet or tender their service”

“We agree that support from government would help to speed up the transition, and recognise that implementing change has a cost, most of all when it cannot be planned well in advance. That is why we are not campaigning for immediate change. Our ask is that separate collections to be introduced over a multi-year timeframe, to allow councils to introduce them at the most economically sensible time – perhaps when they upgrade their fleet or tender their service.

“Our core point was to highlight that direct and indirect savings are possible, and that cost need not be a barrier to introducing separate food waste collections. We would be delighted if our report served as a platform from which we can have a constructive conversation with local government and others about how we can work together to overcome barriers, reduce costs, improve sustainability, and meet our legally binding carbon budget and 2020 renewable energy and recycling targets.”


VIDEO: LARAC’s Andrew Bird will be speaking at this year’s Resourcing the Future conference. For a video preview on what he’ll be discussing, CLICK HERE.

OPINION: Libby Forrest, policy and parliamentary affairs officer at the Environmental Services Association (ESA), discusses the Association’s latest report, and how Government needs to take a lead on resources.

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