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SCEPTICISM AT GOVERNMENT'S WASTE PROPOSALS

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The Logal Government Association is sceptical about proposals being considered by the government for increasing the...
The Logal Government Association is sceptical about proposals being considered by the government for increasing the proportion of household waste that is recycled.

It was reported yesterday that one idea being considered is taxing residents according to the amount of rubbish they produce, but The Guardian (p15) reports that the LGA is concerned about 'un-picking' council tax bills.

The association's environmental management spokesman, Andy Elmer, said: 'Yes, it may work. But will it be at a significant enough level to make people change their attitudes?

'You could avoid paying it for several years before the local authority thought it worth while to chase the outstanding bills. And what will it do for fly-tipping?' He added that there were better ways of getting people to reduce their waste.

More scepticism is apparent in the editorial in The Independent (section 2, p3). The real concern is that the tax-based approach is an old Labour idea in a new Labour guise. Who is to police the system? A new agency, with yet more environmental bureaucrats - or will dustmen be required to tick off a tax form and inspect the contents of rubbish bins as they make their rounds?

The article argues that the government should concentrate on measures with a practical bent, such as assisting the more laggardly councils in providing recycling facilities.

And the Daily Mail (p11) analyses the methods employed around the world to deal with household rubbish and encourage recycling.

In Germany recycling is taken very seriously and sloppy rubbish separation of glass, paper, cans and plastics is regarded as anti-social behaviour. In a number of the country's 16 states it is also compulsory to separate food waste for compost for extra collection. The service is paid for through local taxes and it is sub-contracted to private firms.

In France there are no rules on separating recyclable material, but some councils have botle banks and newspaper recycling schemes. Collections, sometimes by private firms on behalf of councils are paid for through local taxes.

In Italy, rubbish collection bills are calculated by the finance tax ministry. The average bill is£120 payable in advance.

In the US, every city, town and village has its own collection system. Rubbish is packed in dustbins and bags and left at the roadside together with separate coloured containers for recycled rubbish. Glass, metal, plastic, newspapers, corrugated cardboard and aluminium have to be recycled. Collection is mostly paid for with local taxes.

In Spain, recycling has been slow to take off, but attitudes are changing slowly with separate collection containers for paper, batteries, glass, plastic and tins on the streets of larger cities. Collection is by private company contracted by councils and paid for by local taxes.

- Environment minister Michael Meacher's full speech yesterday to the Institute of Waste Management conference in which he outlines the government's waste management strategy is available on request from LGCnet. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.

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