Resources and waste strategy for England - Group Leader's Comment - 8 February 2019

"Standardisation of collection would be easier if we had standardisation of treatment. Currently there are at least seven types of plastic which require different treatment methods. Can we combine forces and shape the processing facilities to use innovation to recycle a wider range of products in their contracts as a norm? "

Resources and waste strategy for England

Raising the profile of our Group as significant contributors, I represented the LGA at the well-attended District Councils Network two-day conference and spoke about the impact of the Resources and waste strategy for England, soon out for consultation.

The aim of the Strategy is to reduce waste of materials and make collections and treatment as efficient as possible. Councils have made great strides in recycling, with some as high as 60 per cent. The average, however, seems to have stalled at around 45 per cent and 26 per cent of packaging is ending up in landfill. Targets are 65 per cent by 2035, 75 per cent of packaging and only 10 per cent going to landfill. 

Energy from waste releases energy, but it would be better to re-use the materials, in what is called the circular economy. It is important stuff and we spend around £4 billion in England, the third highest cost to our councils.

In shaping the LGA's summary of key proposals, members made the point that if collecting garden waste was no longer chargeable there would be a deficit in funding. Similarly if weekly food waste collections were mandatory, it would be a new burden and we would need funding. Currently, 60 out of 85 authorities which offer garden waste collections, charge for the service. Half our councils collect food waste, but only 27 out of 85 collect it separately.

Standardisation of collection would be easier if we had standardisation of treatment. Currently there are at least seven types of plastic which require different treatment methods. Can we combine forces and shape the processing facilities to use innovation to recycle a wider range of products in their contracts as a norm? 

Since the start of 2018, China has been dealing with a narrower range of materials and a contamination rate of less than 0.5 per cent. China will not take mixed paper and the price of paper dropped to 10 per cent. Half of our councils reported an impact from the China ban, some seeing stockpiling of plastic and a median estimate of a third of a million in lost revenue. Some other countries have taken more recyclables, but this market is also reducing.

The "producer pays" principle called the "extended producer responsibility" (EPR) would make sure that packaging used is cost effective to recycle. New taxing of packaging that is under 30 per cent recyclable helps but leaves polystyrene and black plastic bags still with no recycling market. This EPR raises around £100 million per year, is about a fifth of the real cost or less, and needs to come back to councils.

Separation of dry recyclable doorstep collections to make treatment more efficient has been considered by 51 councils, but most found it not cost effective and only 15 made any changes at all. 

The sector is keen to work with the Government to get better solutions, so your contribution to this consultation is important. Councils need to stay in control of the service.

Children’s Mental Health Week

Children’s Mental Health Week took place between 4 and 10 February. What are you doing locally to raise awareness of mental health? The LGA has produced a short guide and leadership booklet to support councillors. We are also highlighting the pressures facing children’s services and the impact these have. Children’s services face a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025. We are also seeing three out of four young people with a mental health problem forced to wait so long for support their condition gets worse or they are unable to access any treatment at all. We are calling on the Government to properly fund children’s services and improve support via the NHS.

Home-schooled children registry

The Children’s Commissioner has called for greater supervision for home-schooled children so they are not so ‘invisible’ to local authorities. In our response the LGA reiterated the need to have better information and called for proper legislation to ensure adequate resourcing to allow local authorities to enter homes to check children’s education, but also to make sure that children are being taught in suitable accommodation and that it isn’t a dangerous environment for them.


The submission date for the Queen’s New Year 2020 Honours List is 15 March. If you would like to put anyone forward you will need to complete a form, which should be accompanied by two to three letters of support. Please contact the Group Office for more information.

Dates for your diary

Independent Group Information and Development Seminar

15 February 2019 | London

This workshop on “reputation and personal brand”led by David Holdstock, LGA Director of Communications, will equip members with the essential information and skills you need to manage your reputation, build awareness of your vision and protect your brand. Please contact the Group Office for more information.

Political and clinical leaders in health and care annual summit 

27 February 2019 | Park Plaza 239 Vauxhall Bridge Rd, London SW1V 1EQ

This annual event is open to clinical commissioning group chairs and elected members with a leading role in care, health and wellbeing. To book a place, please email [email protected]

LGA masterclass on digital and data

  • 5 March | Manchester
  • 15 March | London
  • 19 March | Birmingham

This free event is for elected members who are working on, and keen to maximise, the opportunities of digital approaches and data exploitation. Speakers from authorities will talk about their experiences, with sessions on how, as councillors, to create the conditions in which suitable innovations can succeed.  Book now.

Have your say

I would like to thank those of you who have already completed our engagement survey and to congratulate Cllr John Pritchard from Wrexham, the winner of an Amazon voucher. We are still seeking your views so please complete this short survey. Your views will directly inform our work going forward.