Press Release: LARAC Reacts to Government Response on Simpler Recycling

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Toni McNamara, LARAC Policy and Communications Lead
9 May 2024

LARAC is the most widespread waste authority membership organisation across the UK and represents 80% of all local authorities across all four nations. LARAC is therefore very well placed to provide feedback to government on what local authorities need and want with regards to waste services. 

LARAC welcomes the clarity provided by DEFRA's announcement on Simpler Recycling. It's encouraging to see steps taken towards pressing the “go” button on this long-overdue policy. However, with a tinge of disappointment, and despite our consistent efforts in providing DEFRA with evidence-based insights and case studies, the final decision, as reflected in today's press statement (9 May 2024), leans towards a more frequent collection of residual waste. While we understand the importance of preventing odours and maintaining cleanliness, we had hoped for a more nuanced approach, considering the evidence presented by LARAC that shows a restricted residual collection is the only tool English councils would have to encourage full use of recycling services provided to residents. 

Cathy Cook, LARAC Chair, said: 

The decision to encourage not less than fortnightly residual waste collections completely undermines what the Government is trying to achieve through the rest of the Collection and Packaging Reforms (CPR). The Government has put in a lot of resources to ensure that householders have the ability to not only recycle the most common dry recyclable materials but also food waste. This is a great opportunity to encourage householders to do the right thing and place the correct items in the correct bins in order to reach a 65% recycling rate by 2035. But this will not work if the Government continue to encourage unrestricted residual waste collections.”

LARAC has numerous pieces of evidence to show that residents are more likely to use the recycling and food waste services if the collection of their residual waste is restricted. This has been demonstrated in Wales, which holds the impressive accolade of having the third-highest recycling rate in the world.

The Government's statement that “Simpler Recycling will help to collect more materials” is, therefore, incorrect, as evidence shows that collecting residual waste more frequently actually leads to less recycling being collected.

LARAC is supportive of the Government’s decision to allow Local Authorities to co-mingle dry recyclable materials and co-collect organic materials should they choose to do so, as in DEFRA’s own words it ensures councils “retain the flexibility to collect recyclable waste in the most appropriate way for their local areas”. It is a question for DEFRA, therefore, as to why they are not allowing the same flexibility around the collection of residual waste.

LARAC is also confused by the government's statement that councils are encouraged to collect residual waste more frequently “to prevent smelly waste from building up outside homes and businesses” and would like DEFRA to clarify this. With the introduction of Simpler Recycling, residents will have the opportunity to recycle most dry materials and food waste, so it is not clear which waste DEFRA thinks will be “building up”. 

Regarding the outdated term “smelly waste”, LARAC can only assume that they are referring to sanitary and nappy waste, which, if properly bagged, should not need to be collected on a weekly basis. Many local authorities also offer a specialist collection of this type of waste for those who need it.

Cathy added, 

Essentially, by encouraging local authorities to collect residual waste more frequently, the Government is undermining its own policies, significantly reducing the chances of reaching its targets and making local authority services much less effective and efficient, which goes against the principles laid down under EPR.”

LARAC has provided evidence to DEFRA around this issue and would now like to ask that DEFRA provides evidence to show what “smelly waste” will build up and that unrestricted residual collections won’t impact on recycling services. LARAC would also like to ask DEFRA for further information on the specific responses from the Statutory Guidance consultation that have led to DEFRA making this decision. 


For media inquiries, please contact Toni McNamara, LARAC Policy and Communications Lead -  

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