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The nation’s rubbish bin could help local authorities earn and extra £1billion by 2020 and help reduce the burden on local taxpayers.


The next step is to determine how this can be achieved, and according to a recent article published on the Local Government Association website this can be done through, reforming the market to improve the quality of the recyclable material produced by the sector and by local authorities obtaining a better share of revenue from the 26million tonnes of tin cans, old fridges and even disposable nappies we throw away each year.

By going beyond the EY targets and increasing the amount of household recycling to 70 per cent could offer even greater rewards, helping to create an estimated 51,000 jobs and generate an extra £3billion in additional revenue for the UK economy.

However, according to council bosses, unless the government provides the necessary tools and investment to help them grow the booming waste sector the country will miss out on the opportunity to unlock the true value of our waste.

On the 4th of June the Local Government Association’s local waste review was published, namely, ‘Wealth from Waste’, this review outlines and number of key recommendations for the government on how to promote a thriving, growing, domestic market for recyclable materials as well as looking at how we increase recycling and reuse to feed growth of the sector.

The recommendations within the review include the Treasury refunding landfill tax receipts through councils and the Green Investment Bank to fund the building of new recycling centres, a call for new industry guidelines to improve the quality of recycled material produced and sold by the UK waste sector and the introduction of reward schemes to thank residents for playing their part.

Both councils and residents have played an important role in increasing the amount we recycle, we now recycle 43% of household waste compared to 13% a decade ago, this is a great increase and puts the country well on track to meet its EU imposed target of 50% by 2020.

Successive governments have primarily used punitive measures such as landfill tax since 2008 to encourage the greater recycling levels. The Treasury has increased rates of landfill tax per tonne from £24 to a staggering £80, raking in around £3 billion from local taxpayers. None of this money has been reinvested to help reduce the amount of household waste being sent to landfill and the consequential burden to the taxpayer.

This means that despite having played a vital role by sorting through their recycling and helping councils with their kerbside collections, efforts which have seen the amount of residential waste being sent to landfill fall by more than half since 2000, residents are having to pay more than ever before to have their bins collected.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Vice-Chair of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, said:

“There is clearly wealth in waste. The UK’s waste and recycling sector is currently worth around £11 billion and growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy, but there is so much more we could do to make the most of this booming industry.”

He continued:

“Residents have played their part. By helping us recycle more and more every year they are helping councils save money on the cost of processing the bins, yet they are being punished, not rewarded, because of the crippling rate rises in landfill tax. 

“By freezing the landfill tax at its current rate and reinvesting the money through joint council and private sector waste projects, The Treasury could help us stimulate growth, create jobs and boost an important revenue stream for local authorities to limit the impact of budget cuts on local taxpayers and help us continue to deliver the services our residents rely on, from keeping libraries open to caring for the elderly.

“Having already had to cope with 33 per cent funding cuts and with further cuts expected in the upcoming Spending Round, councils know better than anyone how tight public finances are at the moment. But continuing to cream off increasing landfill tax receipts to balance the Government’s books is not only unfair to taxpayers, it also misses a genuine opportunity to turn the UK’s waste and recycling sector into a world leader.”

Cllr Mike Jones, Chairman of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, said:

“This is an excellent piece of work and I think that the recommendations put forward in this report will set a new tone for the waste debate and enable councils and government to start really looking at the opportunities for the waste sector.”


Local Government Association

Wealth from waste – The LGA local waste review


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