Charges for disposing of DIY waste at recycling centres scrapped

Households will no longer have to pay fees for disposing of small-scale DIY waste at council recycling centres. This change will make it easier for people to dispose of their waste responsibly and boost recycling.

The Government has abolished the charges previously imposed by one-third of local authorities for disposing of DIY waste at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs).

As of 31st December 2023, all councils in England will treat DIY waste like other household waste when it meets certain conditions – for example, not exceeding 2x 50L rubble bags. This change will save households hundreds of pounds, as charges of up to £10 per item, such as a piece of plasterboard, will now be scrapped.

The DIY waste changes have received overwhelming public support, with 93% of householders agreeing with the plans to amend legislation.

Recycling Minister Robbie Moore, who replaced Rebecca Pow after a reshuffle, said: “We have delivered on our promise to make it easier and cheaper for people making home improvements to get rid of their waste properly.  

“Removing charges for DIY waste at council recycling centres will help New Year home improvement projects become a reality and ensure that those disposing of waste responsibly aren’t penalised.”

Removing the fees is part of the wider Government’s aim to tackle waste crime and fly-tipping. However, when the Government first announced the change, Policy and External Affairs Director, CIWM, Lee Marshall, said the Institution wasn’t aware of any research that “shows unequivocally” a link between charging for waste at HWRCs and increased fly-tipping.

After the Government announced it was scrapping the charges, Marshall said: “CIWM feels there are more important issues to be addressed, including increasing recycling and reducing overall waste arisings. Local authorities can provide better services and divert more materials into recycling by being able to charge.

“Local authorities have estimated the cost of removing charges will be around one million pounds. That is money that will have to be taken from other services at a time when local authority budgets are squeezed.”

A survey by the Local Government Association has found that councils may have to reduce opening hours at recycling centres or close them entirely if they are not allowed to charge households for disposing of their DIY waste.

The North London Waste Authority (NLWA) also criticised the announcement, calling it a “diversion tactic”. The NLWA, which does not charge for the DIY waste disposal service and runs a free DIY materials reuse scheme for residents, said it was concerned about the UK Government’s priorities and criticised what it called a “flip-flop” attitude towards the polluter pays principle.

However, the Environmental Services Association (ESA) Executive Director, Jacob Hayler, was positive about the policy. He said: “We welcome any measures that make it easier for householders to dispose of waste correctly and responsibly at their local HWRC, which in turn reduces the chance of it falling into the hands of criminals or being fly-tipped.”

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