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Cash incentive considered to boost recycling

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The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is considering introducing grants for local authorities wishing to boost their recycling performance, MPs have been told.

Hampshire CC’s assistant director for waste James Potter told the environment, food and rural affairs select committee that a Defra official had indicated to members of the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (Nawdo) that cash might be available.

As Mr Potter was giving evidence, SNP MP Paul Monaghan pointed out that the Welsh and Scottish governments have given grants to local authorities to help meet the cost of delivering food waste services. He asked: “Have you or do you plan any discussions with the UK government on this issue?”

Speaking yesterday Mr Potter replied: “I came this morning from a meeting of Nawdo and we had a representative of Defra there. There was … an indication that there might be some form of funding possibly for performance enhancement processes.”

“That is probably the first time that has been suggested for at least the last five years if not longer, other than [the £250m ’Pickles’] fund. If there is that opportunity we would be delighted to have that conversation.”

The committee hearing was covered by LGC’s sister title Materials Recycling World.

Stuart Donaldson, Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority waste strategy manager, told MPs that such funding would be welcome as councils would not be able to boost recycling rates “on their own”.

He also called for consideration of funding from other sources, such as through extended producer responsibility.

But the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (Larac) chair Andrew Bird said clear policy direction was as important as funding.

“I dearly hope that when [Defra] publishes the 25-year environment plan we actually start to see some positive policy moves … that we can all buy into and support,” he said

Mr Bird said he had seen a “vast improvement” over the past 12 months in engagement with Defra.

But Mr Donaldson said his engagement with government had reduced in recent years, partly due to loss of Whitehall staff. He said more dialogue would be welcome.

He added he wanted to speak to other government departments as well, particularly regarding resource efficiency measures in the industrial strategy.

Defra has been contacted for comment.

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