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MPs back council ‘freedom’ over recycling collections

By 05/09/2019News

Government must not impose ‘rigid demands’ on councils over the collection of recycling and waste from households, a Committee of MPs has said today (5 September).

This was among the findings of the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee’s inquiry into the implications of the Resources and Waste Strategy on local authorities.

Councils must retain a freedom of choice over recycling collection systems for their areas, MPs have said

MPs heard evidence from local authority representatives during hearings that took place this summer (see story), as well as quizzing the Defra minister Therese Coffey on the strategy (see story).

REPORT: Read the Committee’s full recommendations

Plans outlined in the Resources and Waste Strategy include mandating all local authorities in England to have weekly collections of food waste, and the government is also considering a minimum service standard of alternative weekly collection for residual waste.


The latter would be subject to an assessment of ‘affordability and value for money’. Government is also preparing prepare statutory guidance on minimum service standards for waste and recycling.

However, today the Committee has urged government to ensure that councils have freedom of choice over their services, in particular over the number of containers needed to run collection systems, echoing comments from local authority figures during the inquiry.

“The government should not seek to dictate that which is best determined by local decision makers.”

Clive Betts
Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

“A balance must be struck between requiring local authorities to improve recycling and waste management, and the ability of local councils to decide the most effective way of achieving this,” the Committee said.

The Committee also called for more information on the additional sources of funding that local authorities will receive in order to meet the additional costs arising from the Strategy, including set-up costs and ongoing operation.

“There should be greater clarity on how this money will be passed on to local authorities and the Government should commit to undertaking a regular review of the funding levels it delivers,” the Committee added.


Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, the Labour MP Clive Betts, said: “The government has recognised the need for a comprehensive Waste Strategy with ambitious targets for improving recycling rates and reducing our impact on the environment.

“However, we believe that the government has set out the wrong approach for achieving these objectives. The government should not seek to dictate that which is best determined by local decision makers.

“In determining how often waste should be collected, the number of recycling bins or what services should be charged for, the government appears to have forgotten that what works in rural areas may not be suitable for cities. Local authorities understand what the challenges are in their areas and should be given the freedom to tailor their approach to meet them.”

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Source: Waste Managment