We laughed about the Green police but …. £1,000 fine for using wrong bin: Families face new crackdown over household waste

March 18, 2010 00:28

Can the US be far behind?

By David Derbyshire UK Mail Online

Householders could be fined up to £1,000 if they fail to comply with complex new rules on refuse sorting.

Food scraps, tea bags and vegetable peelings thrown into the wrong dustbin could land them with hefty penalties under government plans to be unveiled today.

Families could end up with five different bins and receptacles – including compulsory slop buckets for food waste – and be forced to sift through rubbish for anything that can be recycled, reused or converted into electricity.

The proposals are the brainchild of environment secretary Hilary Benn, who wants to banish all food, cans, paper and glass from landfill sites to increase recycling rates and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Residents who persistently flout the rules by not sorting rubbish properly or refusing to recycle would be fined.

The Tories last night condemned any moves to impose financial penalties on families already struggling with soaring bills.

Conservative environment spokesman Nick Herbert said: ‘We need to divert waste from landfill and more food and farm waste should be used to generate energy, but the way to achieve that is to encourage households by rewarding them to recycle.

‘Mandating slop buckets in every kitchen and fining families for putting food scraps in their bin is the typical Labour approach of stick rather than carrot.’

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: ‘People already pay huge sums in council tax and now face the threat of extra fines if they throw out the wrong things.

‘Hilary Benn would do well to remember that the public sector are there to serve not to boss us around.

‘Taxpayers will be angry at the prospect of bin and kitchen inspectors checking up on them. Without these inspectors, the rules will be unenforceable, but with them they are unacceptable and mean added costs.’

About 55 per cent of household waste ends up in landfill sites. Councils already pay a tax on every ton of this as a way of increasing recycling rates.

The plans for fines of up to £1,000 will be announced in a consultation document published by Mr Benn’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Assembly today.

It proposes more fines if food, glass, cans and other recyclables are buried in the ground rather than recycled or used to generate green electricity.

Slop buckets, already used to collect food scraps in millions of homes, would be extended to the whole country, adding another bin to the three or four already parked in many gardens and drives.

Councils would be under greater pressure to enforce recycling rules, and to use fines to punish those who refuse to cut down on their waste.

But even councils warned that compulsory slop buckets would go down badly.

Gary Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said: ‘Defra must not create a situation where every householder in the country is forced to have a separate bin for their food waste. It must be up to councils, working with their residents, to find the best ways of cutting rubbish going to landfill.

‘While councils are paying ever more to the Government in landfill tax, they cannot also be expected to pay for building and running new plants to sort banned materials and process food waste.’

He added: ‘Defra needs to think carefully about where the money to pay for a landfill ban will come from and how the ban will be policed. Councils do not want to be put in a position where they have to fine people for putting their leftovers in the wrong bin.’

A spokesman for Defra said: ‘This is not about fines for householders – we cannot keep on sending waste to landfill, and it is important that councils work with communities to reduce waste, reuse it where possible, and recycle more. Research at the end of 2009 showed 92 per cent of people who frequently use their council’s food collection find it easy to use.’

Last year the Daily Mail highlighted how the rise of ugly wheelie bins is blighting streets and homes. The Not in Our Front Yard campaign won the backing of English Heritage boss Simon Thurley, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and the National Pensioners’ Convention.

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