The Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) has indicated that councils charging for householders to dispose of DIY waste at HWRCs may be breaking the law.
Legislation was passed in March 2015 which prohibited councils from charging residents for the use of household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) either at the point of entry, exit or disposal.
The Local Authorities (Prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015, prevents local authorities in England from charging residents to deposit household waste at HWRCs – and is effective from April 2015, or 2020 where charges were already in place.
Several councils have sought to introduce charges for the use of HWRCs for what is considered ‘non household’ waste streams, in particular DIY waste from home renovations. This could include materials such as plasterboard, carpets, or kitchen or bathroom fittings.
Among them is Oxfordshire council, which does not class DIY waste as being from a household source, and claims that as such, it does not have a duty to accept the material free of charge at HWRCs.
In a guidance note on its website, Oxfordshire county council states: “Oxfordshire County Council appreciates that some householders have DIY waste from projects they have carried out in their own homes. DIY waste is not classed as household waste, and we do not have a duty to accept it. Therefore a small charge is made at the Household Waste Recycling Centres.”
The council operates a scheme entitled ‘DIY 1,2,3 for free’ whereby residents can present up to three items of DIY waste to HWRCs each month, which will be accepted free of charge. Additional items will be charged at £1, up to a maximum of ten items.
A spokeswoman for the council, said: “Oxfordshire has had a charging scheme for ‘DIY’ waste for approximately 15 years. This was introduced with full regard for the relevant legislation and guidance applicable at the time. We are aware of some changes to legislation: for example the restriction on changing for entry to a household waste recycling centre, but we do not believe that such changes are in any way relevant to the question of whether such waste is or is not household waste and therefore believe that our scheme remains lawful and appropriate.”
Northamptonshire council places a restriction on the amount of DIY waste that a householder can present at an HWRC site – with excess material charged on a pay-as-you-throw basis.
Hampshire council has introduced a charge for DIY waste, which it classes as soil and rubble, plasterboard or asbestos, from the beginning of this month (see letsrecycle.com story).
Elsewhere, Surrey council has been among those to 0begin charging, imposing a charge of around £4 per bag for items such as bricks, rubble, soil, ceramic bathroom fittings or tiles from home repairs from September. DIY waste is chargeable at HWRCs in Norfolk if in excess of one 80-litre bag.
But, comments from DCLG have indicated that the Department does see DIY waste from households as a type of household waste.
DCLG has claimed that councils can charge for disposal of construction and demolition waste at HWRCs. However, DIY waste generated by householders should be disposed of without a charge.
“We’re determined to boost recycling and that’s why we’ve brought in legislation to stop councils charging residents for household waste. Guidance is clear that should include any household waste from DIY.”DCLG Spokesman
A DCLG spokesman this week, said: “We’re determined to boost recycling and that’s why we’ve brought in legislation to stop councils charging residents for household waste.
“Guidance is clear that should include any household waste from DIY.”
Responding to the comments, Andrew Bird, chair of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee (LARAC) said that councils will often take a pragmatic view over whether to consider DIY waste as being a household or non-household waste. He also called for greater clarity from DCLG over what is considered to be ‘household waste’ by the Department.
He said: “My view of it is that if you have knocked a hole in your wall for a vent for a tumble dryer, for example, and you need to get rid of a few bricks then that is fair enough. But, when you witness people with trailers as large as a skip piled up with soil and rubble I do think that can be people avoiding having to pay for a skip.
“I would consider DIY as small jobs that a resident does themselves, local authorities are looking to charge for wider scale building work.”
One CA site observer told letsrecycle.com that it can be very hard for CA site operators to distinguish between what is ‘DIY waste’ and contractor waste. “You see estate cars turning up full of household DIY-type waste when clearly there is a contractor working. There are advantages to the one bag rule and a ‘let a car tip out household DIY waste. ANPR recording of vehicles can help here but it is still a difficult area.”