A body representing senior local authority officers has called for a review of the structure of council waste services – arguing that county and metropolitan authorities should be given greater control over collection systems.
The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) made the comments in a policy paper today (30 January), published in response to the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy, launched last month.
ADEPT represents officers in county, unitary and metropolitan authorities, overseeing policy areas including roads, transport and waste disposal.
It has claimed that the current two-tier local government system, which largely sees district councils deliver waste collection services, with county authorities responsible for disposal, is “rooted in the 1970s and provides a significant challenge” to the delivery of the strategy.
ADEPT proposes a “fundamental review” of delivery and governance models for the management of waste in two-tier areas, advocating “responsibilities moved to upper tier authorities and/or the statutory combining of authorities at regional or sub-regional level”.
This, it claimed would improve partnership working as funding would be flowed through upper tier authorities, giving them increased powers to “compel” lower tier authorities to move to consistent collection systems.
ADEPT has also backed plans to make producers bear a higher proportion of the cost of recycling their products, but has argued against calls for an incineration tax.
In its policy position document, ADEPT said it has lobbied government departments against introducing an incineration tax, which it said “could be counterproductive should landfill become a more affordable option again”.
And, the organisation has also advocated a move away from weight-based measurements for waste and recycling. “The whole life environmental impacts of materials need to be considered, not simply their mass,” it said.
Outlining the policy paper today, ADEPT president Neil Gibson – who is also executive director of transport, economy and environment at Buckinghamshire council – said that funding for waste services are under “unprecedented pressure”.
“Local authorities have to make tough decisions about where budget is spent,” he said. “However, in order to continue to provide the waste and recycling services that the public expect, current systems need to change.
“In order to continue to provide the waste and recycling services that the public expect, current systems need to change.”Neil Gibson
“Responsibility for managing packaging must lie with the producer. Not only will this reduce the burden on local authorities, but will also provide incentives for long-term investment and give markets greater certainty.”
Paula Hewitt, chair of ADEPT’s environment board, added: “Increasing our own ability to reprocess recyclables is essential if we truly want to create a circular economy in the UK.
“We have to reduce our reliance on overseas markets for managing waste and recyclables. Energy from waste technology offers both energy security and a reduction in the environmental impact of transporting our waste abroad, so it is critical that councils and their partners are not subject to an ‘incineration tax’.”
The ADEPT paper comes with support from within the waste sector, with David Ogden, business director for Amey, Richard Kirkman, chief technology and innovation officer at Veolia and Paul Taylor, group chief executive of FCC Environment, all having expressed backing.
Mr Ogden, said: “The policy paper maintains the focus on local authorities remaining as the guiding role in the delivery of waste management services, but operating within a clearer policy and governance framework.”
Veolia’s Richard Kirkman, added: “The stage is set for success if funds are delivered in the right place – to those that implement policy – and a simple system developed. The next critical step is to engage in the upcoming consultations to ensure packaging is more recyclable, is collected more consistently and ultimately more recyclable material is reprocessed into new products.”
FCC Environment, chief executive Paul Taylor, said: “The Resources and Waste Strategy marks an important step forward in making the UK a more resource efficient nation and ADEPT’s response reflects the views of many of us from across the sector.”
ADEPT- Waste & resources policy position