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A pamphlet published by the New Local Government Network suggests that the consultation on waste charging is a red herring. The level of any individual waste charge or recycling incentive will be too small to drive behavioural change. On its own, it is also unlikely to deliver significant financial or environmental benefits to the area. Instead, should local councils want to introduce such a scheme as part of a wider strategy, it should operate at a ward and community level. This would be simpler and most cost effective to implement, help build community spirit and provide more tangible rewards to successful wards.
NLGN also recommend that councils could avoid the admisitrative and financial burden of a complex charging scheme altogether. Instead, local authorities should use the opportunity created by the debate to have a more comprehensive conversation with their electorate on the difficult long-term choices necessary to really meet the waste challenge.
Anthony Brand, author of the report, How can we refuse?, argues that:
‘Councils and their partners should calculate, publish and distribute ward level (or similar) recycling rates. Incentives (e.g. a proportion of cost savings or charges) could then be distributed to those wards that show the greatest improvement to be spent in a manner to be decided upon in consultation with residents from that locality. This system would be less resource intensive, simpler to monitor with fewer unwanted side effects’.
‘As a nation we remain ill-informed of the real costs of waste disposal, the techniques already used widely elsewhere in Europe and the real financial and environmental consequences of doing nothing. The emergence of the national charging debate presents an opportunity to set this right’.