Weekly bin collections sent to landfill

June 14, 2011 12:11 PM

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, guaranteed all councils would return to weekly waste collections when the Government was formed,  as over the previous years many had switched to fortnightly collections. But it’s over 12 months since the Coalition Agreement was signed and the situation on the ground is actually worse; 13 more councils have switched to fortnightly collections than have switched the other way.

Back then Eric Pickles claimedIt’s a basic right for every Englishman and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait two weeks for it to be collected.” Saying that was clearly not enough to persuade councils to revert to a weekly collection of residual waste so there was talk that further measures, most likely some form of incentive, were needed.

[caption id="attachment_38569" align="alignright" width="300" caption="We are right to expect them once a week"][/caption]

The ‘Waste Review’ will be announced today and the Government will not force councils to collect rubbish weekly. Instead they will refocus their efforts to make the UK a “zero waste” country. This is one battle Eric Pickles has lost, but many taxpayers will lose out too. Council tax has almost doubled over the last decade but taxpayers aren’t getting such a basic service cut. As the Telegraph noted in their Leader article yesterday morning, the collection of waste is the most basic of council tasks, one of the main reasons we pay council tax. Since the 1875 Public Health act, residents have been required to put their waste into a “movable receptacle” which the local authorities should empty each week. John Redwood reiterates this point, noting that many people do not use the majority of their council services. They may not have children in local schools or receive social security or patronise local leisure facilities; but one service they will use is their bin collection service. That makes a combination of less regular, less convenient bin collections and rising council tax bills particularly hard to stomach.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies produced a report on environmental taxes as part of the Mirrlees Review. They argue that the taxes imposed on waste disposal outweigh the social costs that they inflict in the first place. They found that:

“The UK landfill tax was one of the first explicit environmental taxes introduced in this country, initially set at rates reflecting best estimates of the costs involved. However, subsequent large increases in the rate, and the introduction of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, appear designed to ensure compliance with EU targets on landfill reduction. These targets look too stringent to be justified by the environmental costs.”

[caption id="attachment_38570" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="If government really want to help councils they should tackle the EU landfill directive"][/caption]

Those landfill taxes make it much harder for councils to keep offering weekly collections.  Councils are being forced into rationing waste collection by overly simplistic and inflexible EU targets, rather than genuine local environmental concerns.  Complaints that this is about central government interfering in local decisions therefore miss the point. We don’t have a level playing field at the moment with heavy handed intervention not just from Whitehall, but from Brussels.

Our Director Matthew Sinclair was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning saying that local people should decide the priorities for their local area. The EU, with their onerous directives, don’t have UK taxpayers in mind and establish draconian top-down targets. Massive landfill taxes directly hurt local authorities, instead of allowing them to decide the best policies for their residents. This pressure breeds bizarre responses, such as councils requiring residents to sort rubbish into nine bins, which we looked at in recent research . If councils believe that central intervention in waste policy isn't localist, then they should be asking the Government to take on the EU Landfill Directive.

Matthew Sinclair also appeared on the BBC News Channel this morning, you can watch it here

[iframe http://www.youtube.com/embed/fieBTEwNS5Q 500 314]Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, guaranteed all councils would return to weekly waste collections when the Government was formed,  as over the previous years many had switched to fortnightly collections. But it’s over 12 months since the Coalition Agreement was signed and the situation on the ground is actually worse; 13 more councils have switched to fortnightly collections than have switched the other way.

Back then Eric Pickles claimedIt’s a basic right for every Englishman and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait two weeks for it to be collected.” Saying that was clearly not enough to persuade councils to revert to a weekly collection of residual waste so there was talk that further measures, most likely some form of incentive, were needed.

[caption id="attachment_38569" align="alignright" width="300" caption="We are right to expect them once a week"][/caption]

The ‘Waste Review’ will be announced today and the Government will not force councils to collect rubbish weekly. Instead they will refocus their efforts to make the UK a “zero waste” country. This is one battle Eric Pickles has lost, but many taxpayers will lose out too. Council tax has almost doubled over the last decade but taxpayers aren’t getting such a basic service cut. As the Telegraph noted in their Leader article yesterday morning, the collection of waste is the most basic of council tasks, one of the main reasons we pay council tax. Since the 1875 Public Health act, residents have been required to put their waste into a “movable receptacle” which the local authorities should empty each week. John Redwood reiterates this point, noting that many people do not use the majority of their council services. They may not have children in local schools or receive social security or patronise local leisure facilities; but one service they will use is their bin collection service. That makes a combination of less regular, less convenient bin collections and rising council tax bills particularly hard to stomach.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies produced a report on environmental taxes as part of the Mirrlees Review. They argue that the taxes imposed on waste disposal outweigh the social costs that they inflict in the first place. They found that:

“The UK landfill tax was one of the first explicit environmental taxes introduced in this country, initially set at rates reflecting best estimates of the costs involved. However, subsequent large increases in the rate, and the introduction of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, appear designed to ensure compliance with EU targets on landfill reduction. These targets look too stringent to be justified by the environmental costs.”

[caption id="attachment_38570" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="If government really want to help councils they should tackle the EU landfill directive"][/caption]

Those landfill taxes make it much harder for councils to keep offering weekly collections.  Councils are being forced into rationing waste collection by overly simplistic and inflexible EU targets, rather than genuine local environmental concerns.  Complaints that this is about central government interfering in local decisions therefore miss the point. We don’t have a level playing field at the moment with heavy handed intervention not just from Whitehall, but from Brussels.

Our Director Matthew Sinclair was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning saying that local people should decide the priorities for their local area. The EU, with their onerous directives, don’t have UK taxpayers in mind and establish draconian top-down targets. Massive landfill taxes directly hurt local authorities, instead of allowing them to decide the best policies for their residents. This pressure breeds bizarre responses, such as councils requiring residents to sort rubbish into nine bins, which we looked at in recent research . If councils believe that central intervention in waste policy isn't localist, then they should be asking the Government to take on the EU Landfill Directive.

Matthew Sinclair also appeared on the BBC News Channel this morning, you can watch it here

[iframe http://www.youtube.com/embed/fieBTEwNS5Q 500 314]

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