Bin taxes mooted for ‘dustbin of Europe’

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for a new charge on household waste, after new figures show the UK is the “dustbin of Europe”.

Britain sends nearly 27 million tonnes of household rubbish to landfill sites every year -more than twice that buried by Germany, despite having a quarter less people.

The LGA is calling for households to be charged by the amount of rubbish they produce, to encourage people to recycle in a scheme known as save-as-you-throw.

Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA environment board, said: “For decades people have been used to being able to throw their rubbish away without worrying about the consequences. Those days are now over.”

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne welcomed the proposed plan, saying Britain’s record on recycling was “appalling”, but said it should be combined with efforts to cut down on excess packaging on products.

“It has been a success in Ireland without leading to the problems of fly-tipping that were predicted, and it rewards those who make the most effort to recycle and compost what they use,” he said.

However, shadow local government minister Eric Pickles warned: “Now every household in Britain faces the prospect of new rubbish taxes on top, combined with their bins only being collected once a fortnight. I fear the poorest households will be hit the hardest.”

The plans would lead to an increase in fly-tipping, unpleasant smells and vermin infestation, he added.

But Mr Bettison insisted the save as you throw scheme could actually cut council tax bills and introduce a separate charge for waste collection.

“It’s not about paying, more it’s about paying in a different way. It’s also fairer because if you throw out less you pay less,” he said.

He added: “A town the size of Warwick is already being used to dump Britain’s rubbish and unless the ways of people and business change then it is estimated we will run out of landfill space in less than nine years time.”

Under the EU landfill directive, councils that fail to hit recycling targets face fines of £150 per ton. The LGA warned these fines would have to be met by council taxpayers.