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[GreenYes] new UK PAYT proposal -- weight based
From the Sunday Times of London:

October 20, 2002

Spy in the bin may lead war on household waste

HOUSEHOLDERS could have their rubbish weighed or measured and be charged on
how much they produce, under plans by the Environment Agency, writes
Jonathan Leake.
The government body wants to encourage more recycling — and penalise those
who fail to do so.

The move follows European legislation that demands Britain cut the huge
volumes of waste it produces and reuse more rather than bury it in landfill.

Under one idea, household dustbins would be fitted with electronic tags that
could be read by a machine attached to a dustcart. The machine would
identify the bin, weigh it and add a charge to the owner’s bill.

The idea is one of several being examined by advisers in Tony Blair’s
strategy unit who are to publish a research paper warning that Britain —
which has one of the worst recycling records in Europe — must revolutionise
the way it treats waste.

At the heart of the proposals is the notion that householders are paying far
too little for disposal and that if people are made to pay more then they
will consider recycling instead. Current charges, included in the council
tax, average less than £1 a week per household.

This week Sir John Harman, chairman of the Environment Agency, will tell its
annual conference that Britain should adopt a target of “zero waste
production”. This would mean recycling all waste, either as raw materials or
to be burnt for energy.

Critics say such a target is over-optimistic for a country that produces 29m
tons of household waste, 78m tons of commercial waste and 293m tons of
construction waste annually. Most of this goes to landfill, with volumes
doubling every 20 years.

But Steve Lee, the agency’s head of waste policy, said the UK had enjoyed
“bargain basement” waste management prices. “We have got to get used to
paying the proper cost. That will focus attention and lead to
environmentally friendly consumerism,” he said.

The strategy unit paper is expected to recommend the government set tough
waste reduction targets for local authorities — and give them a range of
powers to achieve them. This would include the power to tag bins — and to
impose draconian fines and other penalties on fly-tippers.

All schemes would first undergo trials — and householders who sort rubbish
for recycling would face no extra charges. The government is, however,
unlikely to get the reduction it wants just from tagging and fines. Other
plans include tackling waste at source, including a blitz on glass bottles
and tins.

Michael Meacher, the environment minister, is pressing for the return of a
deposit system on bottles. A similar system could also be applied to metal
cans; Britain uses 5 billion aluminium and 13 billion steel cans each year.

Plastic supermarket bags are also a major target. They face a charge to
encourage consumers to shop using their own. The bags take hundreds of years
to decay — but Britain uses 500m a week.

Steve Hammer

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