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Pay As You Throw 29 August 2006

Posted by David in Uncategorized.
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Spy bugs in wheelie bins, wheeled-bin-360.jpgwhatever next? The Daily Mail reported it in disgust, dedicating pages to it, while the BBC News Online played it up as a clever way of boosting recycling. Those creating more waste than their quota would have been billed extra for the excess, a kind of pay as you throw (I’m surprised the Sun didn’t use that one). Pay as you throw would encourage recycling, but would encourage fly tipping even more – like the taxes on waste disposal created a while back by the EU. Needless to say, we already pay for our wheelie bin rubbish collection through our council tax. A tax, I add, based on assets instead of income and regardless of use.

Again they use the ‘stick’ of fines, surcharges and extra bills instead of any ‘carrot’ option, carrot options being plentiful but generate zero stealth revenue. Perhaps enter residents into a monthly prize draw for every week they do their recycling – the prize cost, perhaps a holiday or small car, could be sponsored by a local company as publicity (making it free for the council). Others could give a rebate to recycling households. Both would only take the binmen to tick or cross a household list as they went.

I am in largely in favour of paying for things based on use (such as food, gas and electricity) – and most of us would happily pay as we throw – if perhaps they refunded us for the services we don’t use! Like the kazillions of bureaucrats, pen pushers, community outreach support officers and other Guardian job column positions that make life misery. The odds of this happening are rather low. Perhaps we should – like Margo Leadbetter in the Good Life – pay our council tax in person and only the amounts we deem appropriate for services we approve of, use or value. I wonder what their expression would be.

All this said, recycling isn’t always as green as it claims. Much has been sent as landfill, often abroad to Africa or China. I wonder however, why don’t we send more ordinary landfill abroad if we are running out of room here? I see vast wastelands in China on any map. Would this not be sensible?

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