Like so many people, I was gripped by the “Blue Planet” programme and the shocking images of plastic pollution in our oceans.
While household recycling has been a success story in so many ways, we must answer the public’s call to act now to reduce the environmental impact of our waste.
The government’s resources and waste strategy for England is a step in the right direction. It is ambitious and councils support plans to minimise waste, promote resource efficiency and move towards a circular economy to help achieve the government’s 25 year environment plan.
Indeed, councils are already playing their part when it comes to improving recycling rates with their waste collection services diverting millions of tonnes of waste from landfill every year.
The Local Government Association also recognises that by working with government, there is more to be done to boost recycling and reduce household waste to reach national targets and higher standards. Local government has built up years of experience in delivering efficient waste and recycling services to households, and we are the experts in the unique characteristics of our communities. This insight will help government deliver the ambition of the strategy across the country, from densely populated urban areas to rural towns and villages.
Any changes to waste services will need to be fully funded
The LGA has long called for manufacturers to play their part so the intention to introduce full net cost recovery through a new producer responsibility scheme is positive. This must be used to fund and improve services to our communities.
However, the relationship between each of the consultations is unclear. For example, the impact of a deposit return scheme on kerbside collection of recycled materials.
Since 2010, core government funding for councils has decreased by £15bn. This reduction, combined with rising demands for vital services, has put increasing pressure on local authorities. The LGA’s own analysis estimates that by 2024-25 councils face an overall funding gap of at least £8 billion.
We are clear that any changes to waste services, including consistent, standardised services and additional cost burdens on councils, will need to be fully funded.
Our consultation submission, developed with councils, will highlight the real challenges facing councils across the country and the value that they can bring with appropriate structures and funding.
Martin Tett (Con), Local Government Association environment board chairman
Martin Tett: The public want us to do more on waste