Leading article: Just rewards

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The new government's cull of the old government's least popular policies, has alighted on rubbish – and how, in the end, could it not? The redoubtable Eric Pickles, now Communities Secretary, has rejected "Pay as you throw", aka the bin tax, and told councils to try incentives instead. So domestic refuse collections will not, after all, be charged according to principles more commonly associated with Ryanair. We will not be charged extra for rubbish that is overweight or the wrong sort.

This makes sense. The "bin tax" was hated, not only because the technology that made it possible was seen as snooping, but because it seemed less about recycling than making money. Councils now have to come clean: if they really want us to recycle more, they should make it worth our while, as Windsor and Maidenhead already does.

Which prompts the question: how much more could our civic behaviour be improved if penalties were replaced by rewards? How about a free carton of juice for being sober in the town centre on a Saturday night? Or a day's bus pass for regularly parking your car neatly within the lines. Or a book token for a year of not returning a library book late? Maybe Mr Pickles hopes to become the face of a "nice party".

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