Guernsey could charge residents per bag of recycling

Guernsey could charge residents 25p per bag of recycling under proposals aimed at meeting a deficit in the island’s waste budget.

The harbour and skyline of St Peter Port, Guernsey's capital (picture: Shutterstock)

Guernsey Waste, a State-owned trading body which manages the island’s waste services, is funded by a household standing charge and a ‘pay-as-you-throw’ system, which sees residents pay for stickers for bags for residual waste.

The system is designed so the full costs of the island’s waste services are paid for through the charges.

However, States of Guernsey, the island’s parliament and government, says “it is unlikely to ever achieve that aim” because residents are producing “far fewer” bags of residual waste than was anticipated before the scheme’s introduction in 2019 (see letsrecycle.com story).

As a result, the amount received through the pay-as-you-throw sticker charge has been more than £2 million a year less than Guernsey forecast, according to the States’ Trading Supervisory Board (STSB), the committee which oversees Guernsey Waste.

The STSB says this means the amount households have spent on waste charges since 2019 has been around 25% less than expected. It was estimated that households would pay the equivalent of £4.25 per week; the actual cost has been just more than £3.

The STSB has proposed charging residents 25p per blue bag of plastic, cans and cartons and per clear bag of paper and cardboard.

Glass and food waste collections would continue to be free at the point of collection.

Deficit

The STSB says introducing a charge for recycling would “reduce the requirement for central funding” and “contribute towards the cost of processing these materials”.

Guernsey introduced its pay-as-you-throw scheme in 2019

The charge would be set “much lower” than for residual waste to “continue to encourage recycling”, the STSB adds.

From 1 July, the charge for disposing of a standard size bag of residual waste will rise from £2.70 to £2.92. The STSB has proposed increasing the annual charge and sticker price by “above inflation” over the next three years to “bring the amount households pay through direct charges more in line with the original forecast.”

Ahead of introducing the pay-as-you-throw scheme, Guernsey targeted recycling 70% of residual waste by 2030. In a stunning achievement, the island met the target 11 years early in 2019, though the STSB says that “initial success” is one of the reasons why the number of bags of general waste produced is much lower than anticipated.

Alongside the mooted charges, the STSB has also proposed the island’s Policy & Resources Committee writes off the deficit that Guernsey Waste has accumulated since 2019, forecast to be £2.97 million by the end of 2022.

‘Difficult position’

STSB president Peter Roffey said his committee was in a “very difficult position”. He added: “As a Board, we have been given responsibility for the States-owned trading bodies and tasked with operating them on a commercial basis. That is proving particularly challenging in the case of Guernsey Waste.

We rely on that waste being produced to meet a significant proportion of the costs that we incur
– STSB president Peter Roffey

“We have a strategy that aims to reduce the amount of waste that we generate as a community. At the same time, we rely on that waste being produced to meet a significant proportion of the costs that we incur in managing the island’s waste and recycling.

“No other commercial operator that we are aware of would be actively looking to prevent its primary source of revenue.”

Guernsey

Guernsey has a population of around 60,000 residents.

Six months after it introduced the pay-as-you-throw scheme in 2019, States of Guernsey claimed the amount of residual waste it collected had halved (see letsrecycle.com story).

Guernsey currently sends it residual waste to Sweden as refuse derived fuel under a contract with Norwegian-owned waste fuels specialist Geminor, first agreed in 2016 (see letsrecycle.com story).

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