We asked our go-to waste guru, Toni Waters (@misstoni_w), to look at the recently introduced SCC HWRC charges to try and understand why they are needed.
“So, the HWRC (Household Waste Recycling Centre) charges have been in place across Surrey since 01 September 2016. Has this affected your trips to your local recycling centre (or ‘dump’ as most people know it)? Probably not, read on to hear my views on the new charges, I’d love to hear your comments and opinions!”
Introducing a ‘tax’ (as it is being called) on the public disposing of their waste is seen by many as unethical by Surrey County Council. After all, that’s what we pay our council tax for, right? Wrong. Yes, some of our council tax does goes on the environment, of which waste collection is part of, but it’s not very high up on the agenda.
There is a huge misconception by tax payers that what they pay goes on every single service that the council provides. This is not the case. Documents produced by SCC show the highest proportion of council tax is spent on schools, with health & social care second and council services third, followed by roads & transport, environment and business & consumers.
The document can be found here:
A question that I would ask is, if we want to avoid these ‘hidden taxes’ (societies words, not mine) being implemented or extended in future, do we really want the council to take funding away from our children’s education, the health services provided in the county (which I personally think is pretty good), the libraries that they are still supporting (following the governments cuts) or even the transport system (OK, the roads may not be the best round here, but I’ve seen worse in other places!)?
The key word that all councils have had to deal with recently is ‘austerity’. Surrey County Council, and all the district councils, has had to deal with major budget cuts implemented by the Government, whether they like it or not. So, how do you propose the council manages the every growing waste problem when the funding that they used to have to run the facilities is taken from under their feet?
By introducing charges for material that is difficult or costs a lot to recycle – i.e. tyres, plasterboard – that’s how.
If you actually look at what the new charges will be for, protesting about them seems, to me, a bit ridiculous. If you follow the links, the Surrey County Council website, states that charges will be for (and I quote):
“You will have a free daily allowance of chargeable waste from the construction, alteration or repair of your home and garden of one bag OR one item OR one sheet of plasterboard. Thereafter charges will be applied.”
How often do you take tyres down to the recycling centre? Me? Never. When I need to, I go to a garage who change my tyres, and dispose of them as part of the cost. If you are taking more than one tyre down to the HWRCs that the council provides for residents, for household waste, free of charge, then I very much doubt you’re are disposing of household waste, and are trying to dispose of business material disguised as household (*this is my personal opinion)
How about material from home DIY? OK, this one is a bit trickier. Yes I do small amounts of DIY (If I’m allowed by my other half!), and have been know to fill up my car with rubble bags, but you still have a daily allowance. Any big home renovation jobs will probably require a skip, but the smaller jobs, like changing doors or cupboards probably doesn’t. And here is the key point. You are still allowed to take this material to the HWRC!! It just can’t be more than one bag, item or piece of plasterboard a day. A list of what can and can’t be disposed of free of charge can be found here:
This scheme brought in by SCC has also raised the issue of ‘flytipping’, and the fact that cases across the county are likely to increase because of these charges. Where is the evidence of this I ask? Only time will tell, but I hope SCC produce flytipping statistics in relation to these charges (and whether it has remained the same or infact increased) in the future.
When the scheme first came in, I was reading a story covering the charging scheme on GetSurrey’s Facebook page. There were a number of differing opinions, which made some interesting reading, but one thing that became obvious was the fact that people don’t understand the scheme, the impact it is likely to have or what waste producers responsibilities (i.e. me, you or any business) are when it comes to their waste. Under the Duty of Care regulations, if you ask a company to dispose of your waste, and it is flytipped, and you are identified by that flytipped waste, you are libel for the fine, not the company. Scary huh?
More information on your responsibilities as a waste producer can be found here: http://www.rightwasterightplace.com/what-is-duty-of-care/#simple-guide-to-duty-of-care
In my opinion, today’s society is firmly focused around consumerism and having the most modern and up to date items. Maybe we should use these charges to think about the way we consume materials. Maybe we should all think about the waste we produce in the first place. If we actually stopped and looked at what we have in our homes – the clothes, those electrical items, the kitchen utensils, we would see that we don’t actually use the vast majority of it. How much is in our lofts? How much is left in the cupboards and wardrobes week after week, only to be thrown out when we are bored? Maybe we should think about creating less waste in the first place, rather than berating the council when they have to find ways of funding the services they provide because central government are restricting what they can do?
These charges aren’t going anywhere. Surely funding services that enable material to be recycled rather than landfilled is a positive? We may as well embrace these charges, rather than protesting them. Its better all round.
What’s In Walton note: If you disagree with these charges there is an online petition that you can sign to express your opposition:
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