London pilots waste reduction strategies

The London Government is seeking views on draft guidance for local authorities to pilot strategies to cut household waste through financial incentives.

In response to requests from local authorities, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced in November 2007 that it would allow up to five local authorities in England to pilot incentive strategies. Powers to enable the pilots to go ahead are currently being debated as part of the Climate Change Bill.

Waste incentive strategies can charge or reward people according to the amount of unrecycled waste a household produces. Strategies could be rebate-only, offering rewards to those producing the least waste, or could be charge-and-rebate based, levying charges on those producing the most waste and using these to reward households which generate the least. Strategies must be “revenue neutral,” so any money raised through charges is paid back as rewards. Local authorities would not be able to keep any of the revenue themselves.

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock will be writing to local authorities, inviting them to come forward with proposals for pilot strategies. The deadline will be 8 weeks after Royal Assent to the Climate Change Bill.

Joan Ruddock said, “Evidence from countries where these strategies already operate is that charges and rebates of around £50 (approx. $100) are enough to change behavior and deliver real benefits for waste reduction.

“The shape of any pilot strategy will be for local authorities to determine - they know what is most likely to work for them in their own local circumstances. But there are some important principles to observe. For example, the need to have a good recycling service in place already, and the need to take account of vulnerable households. This draft guidance will aim to support authorities through the process of delivering a pilot strategy, whatever their ideas may be.”

Joan Ruddock added, “No decision has been made about rolling out powers more widely - we will make a decision only once we have high quality, robust data from the pilots.

“We hope that publishing draft guidance will assist both Parliament – in scrutinizing the proposed legislation –and local authorities in developing pilot proposals.”