Householders 'back charge for non-recyclable rubbish'

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The Independent Online

Nearly two-thirds of people would be prepared to pay according to how much non-recyclable rubbish they generated, a survey published today found.

Around 64 per cent of those questioned said they would prefer a system where they paid less tax but were charged directly for household rubbish, so that the more waste recycled the less they would pay.

More than three-quarters also said they backed compulsory recycling, but opinion was divided on whether to fine those who refused to comply with such a system.

The findings came from face-to-face interviews conducted last month with 1,719 people in England, Scotland and Wales, commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA).

Last month, Sir Michael Lyons, who is conducting an inquiry into the future of council tax, said he was considering an option of charging householders according to the amount of rubbish they produced.

Sir Michael's proposals would follow the model on continental Europe where homeowners pay based on the weight or number of bags of non-recycled waste.

In Germany households are charged 18 pence a kilo, while in Belgium they pay up to 70 pence per sack of rubbish.

The proposals come as the LGA published a strategy to tackle waste, including plans to give local authorities the power to cut council tax and charge householders direct for waste management with reduced rates for throwing out less.

Figures from the association show that every second, householders in England bin almost four tonnes of waste and are throwing out 3 per cent more each year.

The cost to councils is more than £2.5 billion a year, twice as much as a decade ago, and the figure is expected to increase by £564 million this year and £314 million the next.

The association has said that more than 40 per cent of the waste disposed of by householders is packaging, much of it produced by supermarkets.

The target for local authorities set by the EU landfill directive is for recycling 33 per cent of rubbish by 2015.

The Shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman said: "Changing the tax system so that it delivers better environmental outcomes has to be a good thing, but given the way this Government has driven up council tax, people will be suspicious of any new tax-raising measures they propose.

"We would also need to be prepared to deal with those who will simply avoid paying a rubbish tax through illegal fly-tipping."