The Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) has issued concerns over what it calls the ‘cost implications’ of implementing separate food waste collections by 2024/2025.
The government opened its consultation on consistent collections late last week. Under the plans set out, government says it will make recycling ‘easier’ with a ‘clear list’ of materials that all local authorities and waste firms must collect from homes and businesses, specifically plastic, paper and card, glass, metal and food waste, as well as garden waste for households.
It says this will mean the end of ‘confusion’ for millions of homes and businesses having different collections in different areas. Government says this will help households ‘recycle more and send less waste to landfill’.
I would urge all local authorities to take the time to properly consider this hugely important consultation and respond meaningfully to them. The outputs from this consultation will shape local authority waste services for the next twenty years and so we need to get them right
The plans could see a minimum service standard of residual waste at least once a fortnight alongside a weekly separate collection of organic waste (food).
It also considers the option of free garden waste collections for every home.
Reacting to the consultation, LARAC said it was concerned about the ‘potential contractual and cost implications’ this could have for some local authorities. LARAC however does welcome the confirmation that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will cover upfront and transitional costs of food waste changes as well as ongoing operational costs.
Defra says additional funding and support will be provided to councils for their recycling collections, partly through the government’s reform of the packaging sector, which will see firms covering the ‘full net cost of managing their packaging waste’.
On free garden waste collections, LARAC said it was ‘disappointed’ that Defra is ‘still pursuing the imposition of free garden waste services despite the strong opposition to it from local authorities in the 2019 consultation’.
However, LARAC notes that consultation options presented include charged for green waste collections, given over two thirds of councils now charge for this service.
LARAC, which represents local authorities on recycling, waste and resource management, also criticised Defra for the ‘greatly reduced’ consultation period of eight weeks. It said this was ‘unacceptable for a consultation covering such key policy changes’.
Carole Taylor, Chair LARAC, said “There is a lot of frustration about the short period for this consultation. We would urge Defra to review this immediately and reinstate a full 12-week consultation period, as government consultation guidance recommends.
“Regardless of the timescale I would urge all local authorities to take the time to properly consider this hugely important consultation and respond meaningfully to them. The outputs from this consultation will shape local authority waste services for the next twenty years and so we need to get them right.”
LARAC said it also remains concerned about the viability of collecting plastic film by 2027, given what it calls the ‘lack of sorting’ and ‘end market capacity’ that is currently available, and the ‘big changes needed to meet such a deadline’.