LGA Response to Consultation on Consistency in Household and Business Recycling in England

The LGA welcomes the opportunity to continue to contribute to the consultations on resources and waste reforms, first set out in the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.


About the LGA

The Local Government Association (LGA) is the national voice of local government. We are a politically-led, cross party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales. Our role is to support, promote and improve local government, and raise national awareness of the work of councils. Our ultimate ambition is to support councils to deliver local solutions to national problems.

Summary

The LGA welcomes the opportunity to continue to contribute to the consultations on resources and waste reforms, first set out in the Government’s Resources and Waste Strategy.

The LGA supports the ambition for an increase in recycling rates. As the Resources and Waste Strategy notes councils have a good story to tell on the growth in recycling, which has been maintained at its current level of around 45 per cent in recent years even though central government funding for councils has reduced by £15bn, nearly 60 per cent, since 2010. The local government sector is ready to take on the challenge of improving recycling levels and the overall waste service it provides to its residents. Our work in understanding the reforms continues and we are grateful for the engagement with DEFRA.

However, since the last round of government consultations in 2019 the world has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a devasting societal impact both at home and globally, it has also had a significant financial impact on councils up and down the country. Millions of people have moved from working in offices to working at home, consumer habits have changed around how and when people shop and local councils have seen an increase in the amount of material they are collecting from the kerbside as a result of these changes.

Below we set out some of the areas that need further engagement and consideration, but first we set out the emerging sector wide view of the reforms based on our engagement with councils:

  • The majority of councils are already collecting a set of dry recyclables resembling that proposed in the consistency consultation. Where there are substantial additional costs for councils in complying with the proposed set, these should be met by new burdens funding and/or transition funding. However, consistency cannot be applied to collections alone, it must also be a principle in the design and recyclability of packaging.
  • How waste is collected should continue to be determined locally. Current approaches reflect a range of local factors. Most people are not constantly on the move and they do not have to negotiate different local systems. Residents need to know what can be recycled, which is dependent on producers making this very clear on packaging, and their local method for collection. The current differences in the collection service will consider local geography and housing types and the investment in and availability of sorting and reprocessing infrastructure. In towns and cities there are considerable challenges in managing the street scape if households are required to use multiple bins. Wheelchair and pushchair access can be reduced, and the visual impact can be significant. Only local determination can ensure the right approaches are taken in any given area.
  • The mandating of food waste collection means that all councils should receive new burdens funding to pay for this service even if they have previously been collecting food waste on a voluntary basis.
  • Councils should continue to be allowed to charge for garden waste collection. In our view residents are willing to pay for this service and from our engagement with councils there is little evidence of garden waste being diverted to residual waste because of the charge. 
  • Residual waste collection frequency should continue to be determined locally. The changes to recycling collections (weekly food waste collection and the expanded set of materials to be collected as “dry” recycling) should reduce residual waste volumes, and the percentage of biodegradable waste in the residual waste bin should also continue to fall. The decision on frequency then comes down to the likely proportion of municipal offensive waste in the residual bin (such as nappies and hygiene waste) which is a factor easily determined locally. Government should focus on working with industry to reduce the volume of nappies that are being disposed of in the household residual bin. Pampers, Carrefour and TerraCycle are currently trialling a used nappy collection scheme in the Ile-de-France region. The nappies collected will be recycled with the various component parts being used as secondary material for furniture and plastic products. Government should work with this sector to explore similar producer responsibility schemes for the UK.
  • Local authorities have found that reducing the frequency of residual waste collections drives recyclable material out of the residual bin and into the recycling bin and moving back from this is counterintuitive. Furthermore, statutory guidance on residual waste collection frequency could undermine the achievement of an efficient and effective service for the purpose of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

We make the following additional general points on the Consistency in Household and Business recycling in England:

Scope of the reforms: The LGA is supportive of the Governments ambition to increase recycling rates and reduce carbon emissions by aligning household waste recycling and non-household municipal waste that is household-like. The reforms focus on increasing recycling but also need to consider action first to prevent waste. The consultations have started to consider the need to reduce the overall level of packaging entering the system, but they need to go further and address the mechanisms for stimulating investment in end of life reprocessing infrastructure. The reforms implicitly rely on market forces to stimulate the use of the right type of packaging, but do not reference an ambition to reduce the overall level of packaging entering the system. Similarly it is assumed that the market will absorb an increase in the supply of recyclable material but there is no discussion on whether incentives are required, the types of preferred reprocessing procedures, the siting of infrastructure, or the timescales for bringing new infrastructure on stream. The current reprocessing market is patchy both geographically and in the depth of its capacity.

The government should also signal its long-term preference for how we reprocess recyclable material and consider the incentives that might be required to encourage investment in the right infrastructure in the right place. The Government must also recognise the investment that has taken place already at the local level, for example in energy from waste plants, with the support of past Governments. Any policy and/or tax changes to legacy systems will have a significant financial impact.

Government needs to consider municipal offensive waste items that frequently end up in the household residual waste bin e.g. nappies, hygiene products, and incontinence pads. Once food waste is collected separately on a weekly basis, the only items in the residual waste bin that require a collection frequency of less than four weeks are municipal offensive waste items.

Government will require local authorities to undertake a TEEP assessment prior to rolling out certain types of collection service, such as co-mingling of recycled materials (by default councils will be required to collect materials for recycling separately). The TEEP process can be used by councils to combine recycling material streams where separate collection of recyclable materials is not technically or economically practical, or does not provide a significant environmental benefit.

We welcome the flexibility to make local decisions about the most effective collection system, but it is not acceptable for a local authority to be held under the threat of a judicial review of their TEEP assessment. Protection for local authorities that have implemented services following a TEEP assessment should be established for a specified period to enable authorities to implement cost effective services either directly or through contract arrangements with the private sector.  

​​​​​​​Funding: Local government needs clarity about the future funding of the waste service. Councils’ funding is made up of council tax, retained business rates, Revenue Support Grant (RSG), specific grants, fees and charges and commercial activities. There is not a line in central government’s budget that is specific to waste services and changes in the composition of local government finance, through a series of financial reforms, means that it is not possible to assess how much funding has been made available by central government for local authority waste collection and disposal.

​​​​​​​Clarity is not only needed on how local government waste and recycling services will be funded but also when. Government states that New Burdens funding will be provided for new statutory responsibilities and Extended Producer Responsibility payments to cover the full net cost of managing packaging waste but whether the investment needed to modify and introduce services will be sufficient and available in time is unclear.

​​​​​​​Future work: Further work is still required on the WRAP model for local authority collections to provide comfort for local authorities that their local circumstances have been taken account of. The current model does not consider the peculiarities of geography and housing types in any given area. What WRAP determines as inefficiencies and therefore potential savings, are in our view the product of good local decisions based on a range of local factors that seek to optimise the waste service within the constraints of geography and housing types.

​​​​​​​More consideration needs to be given to waste and recycling collected from buy-to-let properties and Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and the responsibilities of landlords. Government should consider giving councils the tools and powers they need to incentivise greater recycling from HMOs and other types of properties used for intensive letting (e.g Airbnbs), and a fairer system of recouping the cost of higher volumes of waste. ​​​​​​​

If Government continues with its aim for local authorities to provide free garden waste collections, further work should be done to verify the economic and environmental benefits of doing so. The evidence to support the free collection of garden waste isn’t compelling when you consider the opportunities to increase home composting, the provision of free disposal at Household Waste and Recycling Centres, the emissions implications of increased vehicle movements and the fact that a large proportion of urban properties do not have gardens, this proposal is unfair and unnecessary. The majority of LGA members have declared a climate emergency and policy approaches that increase the number of fossil fuel consuming vehicles driving up and down our roads is counterproductive.

​​​​​​​Managing food waste in flats needs more consideration. Flat dwellers experience multiple challenges separating food waste, from locating kitchen caddies to using communal bins. Government should further consider the appropriateness and availability of community treatment facilities such as wormeries or micro-AD and develop non-statutory guidance and funding to aid implementation. Local determination when it comes to service design is essential if government is going to achieve the uptake of food waste recycling in flats.

​​​​​​​Compostable and biodegradable plastic cannot be recycled through household waste infrastructure. These items have the potential to confuse consumers and so messages on non-recyclability must be clear and consistent. Government should also work with manufacturers of compostable and biodegradable materials to remove these products from the household waste stream at least until the infrastructure required to manage these materials is properly in place. In the meantime, guidance on the collection and disposal of compostable and biodegradable materials is welcomed.

​​​​​​​Further to our response to the consultation on Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (EPR) the LGA would like to highlight the issue of take-away packaging, from small independent fast-food outlets, being littered in streets in England’s town and cities. Several of our members are concerned that the prevalence of litter originating from small independent fast-food outlets will not be reduced under the current EPR proposals. Without measures to reduce the prevalence of this litter, brands and retailers that are funding the clearance of their own littered packaging will be unfairly disadvantaged.

Consistency Consultation Questions

Background 

Questions 1 - 4 covered above – details of the organisation submitting the response 

5. Would you like your response to be confidential? 

No. 

Part 1: Measures to improve the quantity and quality of household recycling

Separate collection of dry recyclable waste from households

Proposals on separate collection of dry recyclable waste from households

Proposal 1

Collection of dry recyclable materials (with the exception of plastic film – see Proposal 2)

Given the strong support in our previous consultation, we have legislated in the Environment Bill for a core set of dry recyclable waste streams to be collected from households. These dry recyclable waste streams are glass, metal, plastic, paper and card.

Q6. Do you agree or disagree that local authorities should be required to collect the following dry materials from all households, including flats, by the end of the financial year in which payments to local authorities under Extended Producer Responsibility for packaging commences (currently proposed to be 2023/4 subject to consultation)?

Q7. If you have disagreed with the inclusion of any of the additional materials above in the timeframe set out, please state why this would not be feasible, indicating which dry recyclable material you are referring to in your response

Q8. Some local authorities may not be able to collect all these items from all households at kerbside by 2023/24. Under what circumstances might it be appropriate for these collection services to begin after this date?

Most councils are already collecting a set of dry recyclables resembling that proposed in the consistency consultation. Where there are substantial additional costs for councils in complying with the proposed set, these should be met by new burden funding and/or transition funding. However, consistency cannot be applied to collections alone, it must also be a principle in the design and recyclability of packaging

Where local authorities are locked into contracts that will prohibit the introduction of new collection systems Government should work with those councils and the LGA to determine individual timelines that do not negatively impact the local authority economically or reputationally.

Q9. Do you agree or disagree that food and drink cartons should be included in the plastic recyclable waste stream in regulations, to reduce contamination of fibres (paper and card)?

Q10. Assuming food and drink cartons are included by the date that Extended Producer Responsibility commences, what would be the financial impact on gate fees and processing costs from sending mixed material streams containing cartons into a Materials Recovery Facility?

Those authorities that currently collect food and drink cartons for recycling are doing so in one of a few ways. The key factor in the method of collection is the availability of sorting and treatment facility accepting the materials. If the sorting and treatment facilities are in place for the acceptance of cartons collected alongside plastics, the collection approaches can be designed to follow suit.

Proposal 2

Collection of plastic films from households

We propose that local authorities already providing a collection service for plastic films should continue to do so. We propose that local authorities without a collection service for plastic films as soon as possible and by no later than the end of the financial year 2026/27.

Q11. Do you agree or disagree that local authorities should adopt the collection of this material from all households, including flats, no later than 2026/27?

Q12. Which of the following reasons might prevent plastic film collections being offered to all households by the end of the financial year 2026/27?

The introduction of collection services for plastic films needs to follow the introduction of infrastructure capable of reprocessing and recycling plastic films. Most collection authorities will be capable of putting in place the systems required to collect plastic films from households by 2026/27 so long as investment in the infrastructure required to collect and process is forthcoming.

Where local authorities are locked into contracts that will prohibit the introduction of new collection systems Government should work with those councils and the LGA to determine individual timelines that do not negatively impact the local authority economically or reputationally.

Proposals on the definition of food waste

Proposal 3

We propose that the following should be included in regulations to describe the materials to be included within the food waste stream:

All food material that has become a waste, whether processed, partially processed or unprocessed, intended to be, or reasonably expected to be consumed by humans and including any substance, including water, intentionally incorporated into the food during its manufacture, preparation or treatment. This includes the following:

  • Food scraps
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee grounds

Q13. Do you agree or disagree that the above should be collected for recycling within the food waste stream?

Agree

Proposals on separate collection of food waste from households for recycling

Proposal 4

The Environment Bill will require local authorities in England to arrange for the separate collection of food waste for recycling at least weekly. We propose that local authorities already collecting food waste separately must, as required under the Environment Bill duties, continue to collect this for recycling from all household properties, including flats, at least weekly, in the 2023/24 financial year.

Q14. Which parts of Proposal 4 do you agree or disagree with?

Q15. Some local authorities may experience greater barriers to introducing a separate food waste collection service to all household properties, including flats, by the dates proposed above. For what reasons might it be appropriate for these collection services to begin after this date?

We agree that the separate collection of food waste from all households is essential in reducing the climate change impacts of waste management but whether the frequency of these collection services is weekly or fortnightly should be a local decision.

Where local authorities are locked into contracts that will prohibit the introduction of new collection systems Government should work with those councils and the LGA to determine individual timelines that do not negatively impact the local authority economically or reputationally.

Managing food waste in flats needs more consideration. Flat dwellers experience multiple challenges separating food waste from locating kitchen caddies to using communal bins. Our members have also experienced blocks of flats with managing agents that refuse to allow food waste collection from their buildings and other blocks where the cleanliness of the bin stores have a negative impact on residents’ willingness to partake in the services. Government should further consider the appropriateness and availability of community treatment facilities such as wormeries or micro-AD and develop non-statutory guidance and funding to aid implementation. Local determination when it comes to service design is essential if government is going to achieve the uptake of food waste recycling in flats.

Defra must set out their plans for supporting new investment in food waste infrastructure. Our analysis indicates significant regional variations in the availability of food waste processing plants. This has a knock-on effect on costs and gate fees.

Table 1: Food waste collection services across England: local authority services by region.

Source: WRAP local authority data portal (Councils may provide more than one type of food waste collection in the area they cover).

 

Food collected with garden waste

Food collected separately

No food waste collection

North East

0

0

10

North West

17

9

29

Yorkshire and Humber

2

3

18

East Midlands

9

7

32

West Midlands

10

3

22

Eastern

20

31

16

London

2

43

7

South East

3

46

28

South West

3

31

5

Graph showing food waste collection by region

Proposal on caddy liners

Proposal 5

We propose that the provision of caddy liners in the collection of separately collected food waste should be promoted as good practice and that guidance should be provided on caddy liners, including on caddy liner material types.

Q16. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? Please provide any other comments on the use of caddy liners in separate food waste collections, including on any preferences for caddy liner material types.

Disagree. How to collect food waste should be determined locally. The decision of how to collect food waste separately needs to be based on the type of property you are collecting from, the type of vehicle you are collecting in, the treatment facility that will process the food waste and the requirements of the end user taking the digestate and biogas.

Some facilities such as ReFood in Dagenham, East London receive food waste from both households and commercial businesses. Food waste sent to ReFood from the retail sector is often still packaged in plastic packaging. This is firstly de-packaged in the plant before the food waste is prepared for digestion. The plastic packaging is pelletised and turned into Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) for combustion.

The challenge with using biodegradable caddy lines in a facility that de-packages plastic packaging is the presence of biodegradable caddy liners can be confused for plastic packaging. Furthermore, biodegradable caddy liners can take up to 18 months to degrade in soil and therefore off take markets for the digestate can be limited. Whichever solution works for the authority, processor, and end market. should be funded through new burdens. Where caddy liners are being used, these should be included in the new burdens calculations and fully funded by the Government.

Proposals on biodegradable and compostable plastics packaging materials

Proposal 6

We propose to provide further guidance to local authorities and other waste collectors on the collection and disposal of compostable and biodegradable materials in kerbside waste streams.

Q17. Do you have any comments on how the collection and disposal of compostable and biodegradable materials should be treated under recycling consistency reforms? For example, this could include examples of what should be provided in guidance on the collection and disposal of these materials.

Q18. Do you agree or disagree that anaerobic digestion plants treating food waste should be required to include a composting phase in the treatment process?

Compostable and biodegradable plastic cannot be recycled through household waste infrastructure. These items have the potential to confuse consumers and so messages on non-recyclability must be clear and consistent. Government should also work with manufacturers of compostable and biodegradable materials to remove these products from the household waste stream at least until the infrastructure required to manage these materials properly is in place. In the meantime, guidance on the collection and disposal of compostable and biodegradable materials is welcomed.

Proposal on the definition of garden waste

Proposal 7

We propose that the following should be included in the description of garden waste included in regulations. Unwanted organic material arising from a garden, including:

  • Grass cuttings
  • Garden weeds
  • Plants and flowers
  • Hedge Clippings
  • Leaves
  • Twigs and small branches

Q19. Do you agree or disagree with the materials included in and excluded from this description of garden waste?

Agree

Proposals on increasing the recycling of garden waste from households

Proposal 8

In response to the first consultation, there was mixed support that, if a free minimum collection service for garden waste is introduced for households with a garden, this should be a minimum fortnightly collection service, equivalent to a maximum capacity of 240-litre (either bin or sacks) and local authorities would be able to charge for more frequent collections and/or additional capacity. We are seeking further views on the updated costs and carbon benefits of this proposal as detailed in the table below, subject to securing funding for the policy.

Q20. Given the above costs, recycling benefits and carbon emissions reductions, do you agree or disagree that local authorities should be required to introduce a free minimum standard garden waste collection (240 litre containers, fortnightly collection frequency and throughout the growing season), if this is fully funded by Government, and if authorities remain free to charge for more frequent collections and/or additional capacity?

Councils should continue to be allowed to charge for garden waste collection. In our view residents are willing to pay for this service and from our engagement with councils there is little evidence of garden waste being diverted to residual waste as a result of the charge. 

If Government continues with its aim for local authorities to provide free garden waste collections, further work should be done to verify the economic and environmental benefits of doing so. The evidence to support the free collection of garden waste isn’t compelling when you consider the opportunities to increase home composting, the provision of free disposal at Household Waste and Recycling Centres, the emissions implications of increased vehicle movements and the fact that a large proportion of urban properties do not have gardens, this proposal is unfair and unnecessary.

The majority of LGA members have declared a climate emergency and policy approaches that increase the number of vehicles driving up and down our roads is counterproductive.

Proposal 9

We are seeking views on options, either alongside or instead of a free, minimum collection service for garden waste, and the extent to which they would achieve the aim of increasing the recycling of garden waste and decreasing the quantity of garden waste in residual waste streams.

Q21. How likely are the following options to support the above policy aims?

Q22. Do you have any further comments on the above options, or any other alternatives that could help to increase the recycling of garden waste and/or reduce the quantity of garden waste in the residual waste stream? Please provide supporting evidence where possible

More focus and funding should be spent on increasing home and community composting. Home and community composting are waste prevention activities at the top of the waste hierarchy and therefore should be exhausted prior to any consideration of free garden waste collections.

Community Rockets are an excellent example of light infrastructure that provides a facility for garden waste but also a centre point for community engagement and an avenue into community food growing. Home composting advice and infrastructure also provides the opportunity for garden owners to produce their own compost for gardening or food growing.  

Proposals on exemptions for the separate collection of two recyclable waste streams from households

Proposal 10

For certain waste streams collected from households, exemptions to separate collection may be appropriate in cases where collection of recyclable waste streams together does not significantly reduce the potential for these recyclable waste streams to be recycled or composted.

Q23. Could the following recyclable waste streams be collected together from households, without significantly reducing the potential for those streams to be recycled?

Q24. What, if any, other exemptions would you propose to the requirement to collect the recyclable waste in each waste stream separately, where it would not significantly reduce the potential for recycling or composting?

Statutory guidance proposed content 1: Conditions where an exception to the condition that recyclable waste in each recyclable waste stream must be collected separately may apply and where, as a consequence, two or more recyclable waste streams may be collected together

Proposals on conditions where an exception may apply, and two or more recyclable waste streams may be collected together from households

Proposal 11

Technically practicable

By technically practicable we mean that the separate collection may be implemented through a system which has been technically developed and proven to function in practice.

Q25. Do you have any views on the proposed definition for ‘technically practicable’?

Q26. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed examples cover areas where it may not be ‘technically practicable’ to deliver separate collection?

Q27. What other examples of areas that are not ‘technically practicable’ should be considered in this proposal? Please be as specific as possible

Economically practicable

In order make the case that separate collection is not economically practicable, local authorities will need to demonstrate that their specific financial costs (caused by their local circumstances) mean that it is significantly more expensive to have separate collection.

Examples of this could include, but are not limited to:

  • Type of housing stock and accessibility – e.g. flats; houses of multiple occupation, student accommodation, historic buildings, dwellings with communal recycling points
  • Rurality and geography of property location
  • Available recycling and treatment infrastructure

Q28. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed examples cover areas that may not be ‘economically practicable’ to deliver separate collection?

Q29. What other examples of ‘economically practicable’ should be considered in this proposal? Please be as specific as possible.

Q30. Do you have any views on what might constitute ‘excessive costs’ in terms of economic practicability?

Q31. Do you have any views on what should be considered ‘significant,’ in terms of cases where separate collection provides no significant environmental benefit over the collection of recyclable waste streams together?

Q32. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed examples for ‘no significant environmental benefit’ are appropriate?

Q33. What other examples of ‘no significant environmental benefit’ should be included in this proposal? Please be as specific as possible.

Proposals on compliance and enforcement

Proposal 12

In circumstances where it is not technically or economically practicable, or where there is no significant environmental benefit to collecting two or more waste streams separately, obligated parties are required to complete a written assessment. We want to avoid unnecessary burden on local authorities. We therefore propose that local authorities should only be required to complete a single written assessment for their service area, which will take account of the different exceptions, rather than multiple assessments for the same service area. It may be appropriate for a single assessment to be completed across more than one authority. For example, for two tier authorities, partnerships, or authorities that share treatment infrastructure.

Q34. Do you agree or disagree that local authorities should only be required to submit a single written assessment for their service area?

Q35. What other ways to reduce the burden on local authorities should we consider for the written assessment?

Q36. What factors should be taken into consideration including in the written assessment? For example, different housing stock in a service area, costs of breaking existing contractual arrangements and/or access to treatment facilities.

Q37. Do you agree or disagree that reference to standard default values and data, which could be used to support a written assessment, would be useful?

Q38. Do you agree or disagree that a template for a written assessment would be useful to include in guidance?

Statutory guidance proposed content 3: Minimum service standards for the separate collection of dry recyclable materials from households

Proposal on minimum service standards for the separate collection of dry recyclable materials from households

Proposal 13

We propose to include guidance on how different types of recyclable waste should be collected separately from each other.

Q39. Do you agree or disagree with Proposal 13, particularly on the separation of fibres from other recyclable waste streams and the collection of plastic films?

Answer to questions 23-39

How waste is collected should continue to be determined locally. Current approaches reflect a range of local factors. Most people are not constantly on the move, and they do not have to negotiate different local systems. Residents need to know what can be recycled, which is dependent on producers making this very clear on packaging, and their local method for collection. The current differences in the collection service will consider local geography and housing types and the investment in and availability of sorting and reprocessing infrastructure.

Government should focus on setting the objective of efficient and effective collection systems producing high-volume high-quality recyclable materials and allow councils, along with waste industry partners, to identify the best method of achieving the outcome.

If you follow an outcome-based approach with EPR payments only being made for efficient and effective collection systems, there is no need for standardised collection systems or TEEP assessments as the local market will dictate the best system.

If Government does go ahead with TEEP assessments this should take a light touch approach that facilitates local decision making. Regulations and guidance should minimise the number of scenarios where a TEEP assessment would be required by stating preferred collection methods and exemptions. It isn’t acceptable for local authorities to be liable to a judicial review of their TEEP assessment. Local authorities that have implemented services following a TEEP assessment should be protected from Judicial Review for a specified period. This will enable authorities to implement cost effective services either directly or through contract arrangements with the private sector without fear of reprisal.

Q40. Which service areas or materials would be helpful to include in non-statutory guidance?

Waste prevention activities such as home composting and community composting

Proposals on Review of Part 2 of Schedule 9 of the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016

Proposal 15

Q41. Do you have any comments on the recommendations from the review of the Part 2 of Schedule 9 of the Environmental Permitting Regulations?

No

Q42. If amendments are made to Part 2 of Schedule 9, do you agree or disagree that it is necessary to continue to retain requirements to sample nonpackaging dry recyclable materials?

Proposals on recycling credits

Proposal 16

Q43. Do you agree or disagree that provision for exchange of recycling credits should not relate to packaging material subject to Extended Producer Responsibility payments?

Q44. In relation to recycled waste streams not affected by Extended Producer Responsibility or which are not new burdens we are seeking views on two options:

Option 1 Should we retain requirements for Waste Disposal Authorities to make payment of recycling credits or another levy arrangement with Waste Collection Authorities in respect of non-packaging waste?

Option 2 Should we discontinue recycling credits and require all two-tier authorities to agree local arrangements?

Q45. Where local agreement cannot be arrived at what are your suggestions for resolving these? For example, should a binding formula be applied as currently and if so, please provide examples of what this could look like

Recycling credits have served their purpose and should be discontinued. All two-tier authorities should agree their own local arrangements, but government should provide a resolution service where local agreement cannot be reached,

Part 2: Measures to improve the recycling of non-household municipal waste from businesses and non-domestic premises

Dry materials to be collected from non-household municipal premises for recycling

Proposals on dry materials to be collected from non-household municipal premises for recycling

Proposal 17

Collection of dry recyclable materials (with the exception of plastic films)

Q46. Do you agree or disagree that waste collectors should be required to collect the following dry materials from all non-household premises for recycling, in 2023/24?

Agree

Q47. Some waste collectors may not be able to collect all the items in the dry recyclable waste streams from all non-household municipal premises in 2023/24. Under what circumstances might it be appropriate for these collection services to begin after this date?

It is essential that material collected for recycling, either from households or non-households is recycled. Reasons for not collecting the materials by 23/24 must be justified and verified but they cannot be arbitrarily chosen from a long list.

Proposal 18

Collection of plastic films from non-household municipal premises

We propose that waste collectors should be required to collect all recyclable plastic films from non-household municipal premises no later than the end of the financial year 2024/25. We are seeking views from businesses and waste collectors on whether this timing is appropriate, or if more time is required. We are also seeking to understand any major differences in collection methods between household and non-household municipal collections.

Q48. Do you agree or disagree that collections of plastic films could be introduced by the end of 2024/25 from non-household municipal premises?

Q49. Do you have any other comments on this proposal? For example, please specify any barriers that may prevent collectors delivering these services

Agree. The collection and processing of plastic films from non-household municipal premises should be easier to implement and will allow the reprocessing sector to iron out the challenges ahead of household collections.

Separate collection of food waste from non-household municipal premises

Proposals for on-site food waste treatment technologies

Proposal 19

Food waste that is not properly recycled or fully recovered on the site of production should be separately collected for recycling or recovery elsewhere.

Food waste treatment technologies can be used to pre-treat waste prior to being separately collected for these purposes. Disposal of food waste by landfill or into the sewer system (even if pre-treated) should only be carried out as a last resort in accordance with the waste hierarchy.

Where food waste treatment technologies are used, they should be operated in line with relevant guidelines on environmental and wastewater management and should be compliant with Animal By-Product (ABP) regulations and other appropriate regulatory requirements.

Q50. Do you agree or disagree with Proposal 19?

Q51. Do you have any other comments on the use of these technologies and the impact on costs to businesses and recycling performance?

Agree with proposal 19. However more focus should be placed on reducing food waste in the first instance. Programmes such as FoodSave in London reduced significant amount of food waste being generated from restaurants, cafés and hospitality venues whilst also saving proprietors significant amounts of money in avoided cost. Requirements to collect food waste from non-household municipal premises should be supported with food waste prevention programmes

Proposals on reducing barriers to recycling for non-household municipal waste producers

Proposal 20

We propose to continue to support businesses and small and micro-firms (i.e. those employing fewer than 50 and 10 Full Time Equivalent employees respectively) to recycle and overcome any barriers associated with increasing recycling.

Q52. What are the main barriers that businesses (and micro-firms in particular) face to recycle more?

Space, time, incentive.

Proposals on exemptions and phasing for microfirms

Proposal 21

We propose that micro-sized producers of non-household municipal waste should have special arrangements in place to reflect the higher barriers to recycling that they often face. We are consulting on two options:

Option 1: Micro-firm producers of non-household municipal waste should be exempt from the requirement to arrange for the collection of five recyclable waste streams (glass, metal, plastic, paper and card, food waste) for recycling and to present this waste in accordance with the arrangements.

Option 2: Micro-firm producers of non-household municipal waste are phased into the new recycling consistency requirements in the Environment Bill, two years after the recycling consistency go live date.

Q53. Should micro-firms (including businesses, other organisations and non-domestic premises that employ fewer than 10 FTEs) be exempt from the requirement to present the five recyclable waste streams (paper & card, glass, metal, plastic, food waste) for recycling? Please select the option below that most closely represents your view and provide any evidence to support your comments.

Q54. Should any non-household municipal premises other than micro-sized firms be exempt from the requirement? Please provide evidence to support your comments.

Any exemptions should be based on the volume of recyclable material they produce, not the size of the business.

Proposals on other cost reduction options

Proposal 22

We propose to continue to explore cost reduction options to reduce the cost burden for non-household municipal waste producers and are seeking further views on waste zoning/franchising and collaborative procurement options. We continue to develop these and other cost reduction options that we consulted on previously.

Waste franchising / zoning

Q55. Which recyclable waste streams should be included under a potential zoning scheme?

Dry recyclable waste streams and food waste.

Q56. Which of the below options, if any, is your preferred option for zoning/collaborative procurement? Please select the option that most closely aligns with your preference

Framework zoning or Material Specific Zoning.

Q57. Do you have any views on the roles of stakeholders (for example Defra, the Environment Agency, WRAP, local authorities, business improvement districts, businesses and other organisations and chambers of commerce) in implementing a potential zoning or franchising scheme?

Local authorities should be given the opportunity to lead on the implementation of potential zoning or franchising schemes working with key stakeholders in their area. However, this should not be a duty but instead a first refusal option. Local authorities in urban areas will be very keen to consider leading on implementing zoning and franchising because of the reduced congestion and air quality benefits, but rural authorities may prefer not to intervene in the market to ensure the highest level of competition for their businesses.

Local authorities have the skills and experience required to establish zoning or franchising schemes. They also have established relationships with businesses and communities enabling them to convene and consult with the relevant parties.

Q58. Do you have any further views on how a potential waste collection franchising / zoning scheme could be implemented?

No.

Collaborative procurement

Q59. Do you have any views on how Government can support non-household municipal waste producers to procure waste management services collaboratively? This could include working with other stakeholders.

Business support

Q60. Which type(s) of business support would be helpful? (Select any number of responses)

Provide resources to local authorities to enable them to undertake an outreach and convening role alongside their business development functions.

Commercial waste bring sites

Q61. Are there any barriers to setting up commercial waste bring sites, and do you find these sites useful?

No, subject to space and planning.

Separate collection of recyclable waste streams from non-household municipal waste producers

Exemptions from the requirement that recyclable waste from each waste stream must be collected separately

Proposals on exemptions to the separate collection of two waste streams from non-household municipal premises

Proposal 23

For certain waste streams collected from non-household municipal premises, exemptions to separate collection may be appropriate in cases where collection of recyclable waste streams together does not significantly reduce the potential for these recyclable waste streams to be recycled or composted.

Q62. Could the following recyclable waste streams be collected together from non-household municipal premises, without significantly reducing the potential for those streams to be recycled?

Q63. What, if any, other exemptions would you propose to the requirement to collect the recyclable waste stream in each waste stream separately where it would not significantly reduce the potential for recycling or composting?

Proposals on conditions where an exemption may apply and two or more recyclable waste streams may be collected together from non-household municipal premises

Proposal 24

Technically practicable

By technically practicable we mean that the separate collection may be implemented through a system which has been technically developed and proven to function in practice.

Q64. Do you have any views on the proposed definition for ‘technically practicable’?

Q65. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed examples cover areas where it may not be ‘technically practicable’ to deliver separate collection?

Q66. What other examples of areas that are not ‘technically practicable’ should be considered in this proposal? Please be as specific as possible.

Economically practicable

In order make the case that separate collection is not economically practicable, waste collectors will need to demonstrate that their local circumstances financial costs mean that is significantly more expensive to have separate collection. Examples of this could include, but are not limited to:

  • Type of premises and accessibility
  • Rurality and geography of premises

Q67. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed examples cover areas that may not be ‘economically practicable’ to deliver separate collection are appropriate?

Q68. What other examples of ‘economically practicable’ should be considered in this proposal? Please be as specific as possible.

Q69. Do you have any views on what might constitute ‘excessive costs’ in terms of economic practicability?

Q70. Do you have any views on what should be considered ‘significant,’ in terms of cases where separate collection provides no significant environmental benefit over the collection of recyclable waste streams together?

Q71. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed examples for ‘no significant environmental benefit’ are appropriate?

Q72. What other examples of ‘no significant environmental benefit’ should be included in this proposal? Please be as specific as possible.

Proposals on compliance and enforcement

Proposal 25

In circumstances where it is not technically or economically practicable, or where there is no significant environmental benefit to collecting two or more waste streams separately, we want to avoid unnecessary burdens on waste collectors and waste producers.

Q73. What ways to reduce the burden on waste collectors and producers should we consider for the written assessment?

Q74. We are proposing to include factors in the written assessment which take account of the different collection requirements, for example, different premises within a service area. What other factors should we consider including in the written assessment?

Q75. Would reference to standard default values and data, that could be used to support a written assessment, be useful?

Q76. Do you agree or disagree that a template for a written assessment would be useful to include in guidance?

Q77. Do you agree or disagree that the proposed approach to written assessments and non-household municipal collections will deliver the overall objectives of encouraging greater separation and assessing where the three exceptions (technical and economical practicability and environmental benefit) apply?

In our answer to questions 23 – 39 we posed that Government should focus on setting the objective of efficient and effective collection systems producing high-volume high-quality recyclable materials and allow councils, along with waste industry partners, to identify the best method of achieving the outcome. If this is accepted, then a similar approach should be taken to non-household collections of recyclables. The local authority in its role of establishing zoning or franchising arrangements should be a key stakeholder in the decision-making process alongside the waste industry and the EPR scheme administrator.

If you follow an outcome-based approach with EPR payments only being made for efficient and effective collection systems, there is no need to standardised collection systems or TEEP assessments as the local market will dictate the best system.

Proposals on the costs and benefits of implementing the changes proposed in this consultation

Proposal 26

Q78. Do you have any comments and/or evidence on familiarisation costs (e.g. time of FTE(s) spent on understanding and implementing new requirements) and ongoing costs (e.g. sorting costs) to households and businesses?

Q79. Do you have any comments on our impact assessment assumptions and identified impacts (including both monetised and unmonetised)?

Local decision making

The impact assessment has been updated to include the costs for an “optimised” collection service where councils decide locally whether to use multi-stream, two-stream or commingled collection services. In Defra’s analysis the ‘optimised’ (locally determined) collection system, combined with separate weekly food and free garden waste yields the highest Net Present Value (NPV = net benefit to society). The LGA view that local authorities are best placed to identify the most cost-effective service for their local area is therefore supported by the findings of the impact assessment.

This approach, alongside a close working relationship with the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme administrator will deliver effective and efficient collection systems that reflect local circumstances.

Garden waste modelling

The LGA does not agree with the provision on free garden waste collections for the reasons set out in our answers to questions 20, 21 and 22. The justification for a free versus charged garden waste service focuses on the additional societal value of a free service. However, the impact assessment recognises the equality issue of a free service and tries to address this by limiting the capacity of the free waste bin. This only redresses inequality in garden sizes, not whether you have a garden or not.

The case for free garden waste collection is based on evidence that a free service will reduce the amount of garden waste placed in the residual bin. It is worrying that the evidence put forward in the impact assessment is based on unpublished studies from WRAP.

Evidence presented in the impact assessment (page 61) is not conclusive and Defra recognises that there is not a consistent picture across councils:In each case of the transition to charged garden collection the kerbside residual waste arisings appear to have increased, albeit to different degrees.”

We strongly question the assumption in the impact assessment that charging for garden waste service increases the amount of garden waste in residual waste by 25%.

Councils charging for garden waste report that there is less contamination and the material presented by residents is of a higher quality. This requires further analysis and should be taken into account in the modelling of the benefits of free versus charged for services.

Carbon savings

The level of detail provided in the Impact Assessment make it impossible to challenge the carbon savings estimated in Annex E. Our concern is that the carbon savings estimated make a number of assumptions about changes in householder behaviours, but it is not clear what assumptions have been made around a free collection of garden waste attracting waste that was previously home composted. The LGA calls on Government to work with local authorities to ensure the modelled impacts reflect the likely impact that free garden waste collection services will have.

Infrastructure costs

The Impact Assessment makes few references to hard infrastructure that is likely to be required such as depots. Increased separation and the increased number of recyclables being collected will often mean more depot space will be required. The LGA recognises that some of this cost will be covered by new burdens or EPR payments but the challenge that hasn’t been recognised is delays caused by site identification, acquisition, planning and construction. This coupled with delays that may be experienced due to existing contracts needs to be modelled.