Introducing charges for waste - such as pay-as-you-throw schemes - will not increase recycling rates, a report out today (9 May 2008) has claimed.
Research by the New Local Government Network (NLGN) instead called for councils to use financial incentives to reward residents who improve their recycling rates, rather than threatening those who do not with fines.
NLGN director Chris Leslie said: “With landfill tax increasing year on year and some authorities spending millions of pounds dealing with the problem of rubbish disposal, it is clear that the government has to adopt a new approach to this challenge.
“We also want to see households given a positive incentive to reduce the amount of rubbish they throw away, rather than being persecuted by individual fines. By offering local communities financial incentives, residents would be able to benefit their locality as well as the wider environment.”
Other recommendations include offering a£50 discount on energy bills to households in areas that agree to host new and often unpopular incineration plants.
The report also suggests that to meet the EU target to reduce the amount of landfill waste, 10 large and 200 smaller scale incineration plants would have to be built.
The report follows the publication of new figures that show the proportion of waste being recycled has increased.
According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs annual waste management update, 33.2% of all household rubbish was recycled in the year ending September 2007.
This compares to an average rate of 30.9% in the year up to March 2007, meaning the average residual household waste dropped from 353 kg to 340 kg. The rise in the recycling rate contributed to the amount of waste sent to landfill dropping from 16.9m to 16.1m tonnes.
But the total amount of municipal waste collected by local authorities dropped by a much smaller amount from 25.8m to 25.7m tonnes.
The role local authorities play in improving recycling rates was thrust under the spotlight earlier this week when it emerged that plans to give councils powers to charge households for putting out more than a set amount of rubbish were under threat. Prime minister Gordon Brown is understood to be considering shelving the proposed pay-as-you-throw pilots.