‘Listen to local authorities’ on consistent recycling collections, says NLWA

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) says the UK Government must listen to local authorities on consistency in household and business recycling in England.

NLWA says that, while the Authority and its seven constituent boroughs are promoting communications and initiatives to reduce waste and increase recycling, local action needs to be ‘supported by national policies and interventions that promote the circular economy’.

It says that individual local authorities cannot transform the behaviours of the manufacturing and packaging sectors.

NLWA Chair, Cllr Clyde Loakes, said: “The Government must listen to local authorities who have the detailed knowledge of the areas they serve to deliver reforms successfully. This is a crucial agenda.

“If the Government is serious about increasing recycling, it will also respond to the consultation by accepting our proposal that local authorities should have powers to ensure compulsory recycling by households and businesses.”

Recycling consistency

In its response to the Defra consultation on consistency in household and business recycling in England, NLWA highlighted that the Government’s indication that it will provide funding to fully cover capital, transition, and new burden costs, must be based on the actual costs incurred by local councils, so that council taxpayers’ interests are properly protected.

NLWA said it is ‘very welcome’ that Government is proposing that new materials should be included in dry mixed recycling collections. It says to make a success of this the Government needs to take an ‘active role’ in developing markets for these recycled materials, especially to create UK reprocessing opportunities.

The Authority said it does not agree with Government proposals to require different recycling material to be collected in different bins. It says that a single bin has ‘significant advantages’, particularly in an urban environment.

“It is easy for residents to understand, cost-effective, requires fewer containers, avoids health and safety issues, protects the street scene from spillage and unsightly bags and boxes,” the Authority said.

The Government must listen to local authorities who have the detailed knowledge of the areas they serve to deliver reforms successfully. This is a crucial agenda.

The Government proposals to separate materials would increase quality and income, the Authority says. However, in NLWA’s case where it largely operates in a ‘commingled’ collection environment, ‘we are already successfully separating and selling recyclables at market rate’, it says.

The Authority supports the argument for increasing collections of separate food waste. However, this needs to be balanced with practical considerations, especially for estates and flats above shops, it says.

It says the Government’s impact assessment does ‘not adequately reflect the additional cost of collecting food waste from these property types or the additional education/outreach and additional infrastructure that will be required’.

Food waste collections should only be implemented for estate and flats above shops after local technical, economic, and environmental analyses are done, it says.

NLWA urges that the Government allows the decision to charge for green waste collection, and how much, to be taken locally to take account of local factors and additional cost (for example, Ultra Low Emission Zone and congestion charges).

The Government argues that making garden waste collections free will automatically increase recycling tonnages. However, there is evidence that in north London – where garden waste makes up a much smaller proportion of overall tonnage than in much of England – green waste volumes collected have increased since residents using the garden waste service were asked to pay for the extra service which they receive, and which many residents simply don’t need.

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