Politics

DIY waste disposal will no longer incur charge under new plans | Waste


Households in England and Wales will no longer have to pay to get rid of waste created by DIY activities under new plans set out by the government on Monday.

At the moment, some local authorities are allowed to charge for the removal of waste such as plasterboard, bath units and bricks, but the proposed changes outlined in a technical consultation would stop this.

The move, which is part of a fresh attempt to crack down on fly-tipping, could save consumers up to £10 per individual item, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

The government banned backdoor charges for individuals disposing of household rubbish at waste centres in 2015. However, about a third of local authorities still charge for certain types of DIY waste, applying rules to residents designed for construction waste.

The environment minister Jo Churchill said: “When it comes to fly-tipping, enough is enough. These appalling incidents cost us £392m a year and it is time to put a stop to them. I want to make sure that recycling and the correct disposal of rubbish is free, accessible and easy for householders. No one should be tempted to fly-tip or turn to waste criminals and rogue operators.”

Local authorities handled 1.13m fly-tipping incidents in 2020-21, during the Covid-19 pandemic, up 16% on the year before.

New council grants totalling £450,000 will be awarded to selected authorities to help them fund a range of projects to catch fly-tippers in action or deter them from dumping waste in the first place.

Projects include the use of covert and overt CCTV cameras at hotspot locations; educational programmes to influence behaviour change; and a “no bags on the street” policy to prevent rubbish collections outside business premises.

Buckinghamshire council also plans to use artificial intelligence at fly-tipping hotspots, such as rapid deployment cameras and automatic number-plate recognition. These tools link the vehicles of fly-tipping suspects to the disposed-of items in real time, allowing investigating officers to track down culprits quickly.

The other councils set to receive the grant are Durham, Newham, Eastleigh Borough, Stevenage, Winchester, Dover, Thanet, Telford and Wrekin, and Basingstoke and Deane.

The government is also considering measures to make manufacturers of the most-dumped items – such as furniture and mattresses – responsible for the costs of disposing of waste created by their products.

Jacob Hayler, the executive director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), said he was pleased by the range of measures announced by the government to deter “this deeply antisocial, criminal behaviour”.

He said: “In addition to helping individuals recycle their household waste materials at HWRCs [household waste and recycling centres], of particular importance is stopping this material from falling into the hands of organised waste criminals, leading to larger-scale fly-tipping, which is why the ESA also strongly supports digital waste-tracking and reform of the licensing regime for carriers, brokers and dealers of waste material.”

Digital waste-tracking involves those handling rubbish recording information from the point the waste is produced to the stage it is disposed of, recycled or reused. It is hoped this will make it easier for regulators to detect illegal waste activity.

Marcus Gover, the chief executive of the sustainability charity Wrap, said: “Minimising waste is central to this, and the introductions of grants to reduce fly-tipping across England and Wales are necessary to help prevent the continual environmental cost of this illegal activity.”



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