Less Than 10% Of Councils Consider Recycling “Compulsory”

Fewer than 10% of councils in England and Wales consider their recycling scheme “compulsory” for residents, according to reports by Sky News.

The figure, which Sky News obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request, revealed that of the 200 councils that responded, just 12 said they considered their recycling scheme “mandatory” for households – imposing fines for those who do not recycle.

The councils that consider it compulsory include Barnet, Basildon, Carmarthenshire, Derbyshire Dales, East Lindsey, Gwynedd, Horsham, Isle of Wight, Malvern Hills, St Helens and Waltham Forest councils.

Local authorities across the UK are devising ways to increase recycling in the face of reduced budgets and looming EU targets.

“Enforcement measures, such as so-called ‘compulsory’ schemes and fines, have generally been seen as a last resort, with councils opting instead to use awareness-raising measures to encourage recycling behaviour, coupled with operational ‘nudges’ such as reducing the size of residual waste containers or changing collection frequencies to place a greater emphasis on recycling.”

The emergence of the fortnightly, three-weekly, or even four-weekly residual waste collection is just one way they’re doing this. Other ways include reduced container capacity, as recently adopted by Aberdeen Council and incentive schemes such as local Green Points.

CIWM’s deputy chief executive Chris Murphy, commented: “Collectively, local authorities have achieved a fourfold increase in recycling in the past 15 years, reshaping this important frontline service to make it easy for people to recycle on their doorstep.

“Enforcement measures, such as so-called ‘compulsory’ schemes and fines, have generally been seen as a last resort, with councils opting instead to use awareness-raising measures to encourage recycling behaviour, coupled with operational ‘nudges’ such as reducing the size of residual waste containers or changing collection frequencies to place a greater emphasis on recycling.

“With evidence that a renewed effort will be required to meet the 50% recycling target for the UK in 2020, it is important that a whole range of options are considered.

“One of the most important is the current work to assess what increase in recycling might be achieved through a more consistent approach to collection across the country.

“Good communication also remains vital; behaviour research by WRAP reports a strong relationship between the amount of information received on the kerbside collection by the householder and levels of effective recycling.”


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  1. I am amazed and that only 10% of Councils think that household recycling is compulsory!!………..Section 46 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 states ” an authority (Council) may serve a Notice requiring the occupier of any house to place their waste in receptacles or compartments of receptacles that are required to be used for waste which is to be recycled and waste which is not”. A person who fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the requirements of the Notice shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, currently £1,000.

    What could be clearer than that ?

  2. Couldn’t agree more with you old friend, but a lot of councils aren’t prepared to use the statutory powers they’ve been given, hence the confusion.

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