It is high time for recycling rewards, not bin taxes

Swapping bin bullies for recycling rewards, finally

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The new Government will scrap the last Government's plans for the imposition of bin taxes on family homes, Cabinet Ministers Eric Pickles and Caroline Spelman have announced, and one can but add to that “good riddance”. This was one of the most stupid ideas of the previous government, as it would have just lead to an increase in fly tipping.

At the launch of the country's first ever council-run recycling reward scheme, Ministers dismissed 'pay as you throw' taxes because they would lead to more fly-tipping to dodge fines, saying people should be given incentives to recycle not punishments.

The voluntary reward scheme in Windsor and Maidenhead lets residents can earn points for recycling to spend at local shops, from a free cup of coffee or a discounted eye test, to deals on spa treatments and local restaurants.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: "Rather than helping the environment, bin taxes would have fuelled fly-tipping and backyard burning. The best way to encourage people to recycle is not to punish families, but to encourage and reward them for going green. It's time to rein in the bin bullies and work with local people to build greener and cleaner communities."

Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: "Windsor and Maidenhead Council have got it right by rewarding people for voluntarily doing the right thing not penalising them for doing the wrong thing - that is how we can change behaviour, improve the environment and get people to play their part in a Big Society.

"That is why we are here today supporting the first ever council-run scheme in the UK to give residents reward points or cash vouchers for recycling."

60,000 households in Windsor and Maidenhead can volunteer to claim up to £135 worth of points a year from over 100 reward partners, at no cost to other residents. The scheme will also mean that less recyclable waste will go to expensive landfill, saving the council money.

Households volunteer to activate a RecycleBank account. They then receive a new, blue wheelie recycling bin for their mixed waste. Residents will earn points for how much residents recycle, similar to airline miles for flying – rewarding households 5.5 points for each kilogram (kg) the household recycles.

Points can be redeemed for rewards like money off products and services from participating local and national reward partners including retailers and service providers, or donated to local schools. RecycleBank already has 116 UK reward partners, including Marks and Spencer, Coffee Republic and Cineworld.

While this is a start we should really take a much closer look other projects and ideas, especially in the United States. There were have the reverse vending machines – and also, by now, now in Germany, where drinks cans and bottles can be exchanged for vouchers which can be turned into cash in the participating places that have the machines. Much like the Coin Star machines in many supermarkets.

There are also the official recycling centers in the US, whether municipality run or private, that pay people in cash for the recyclables that they bring in and many a poor and homeless family in America is making a living from doing just that.

Why, I ask, does it always seem to take years of expensive study, lengthy trial operations here and there, before we ever get any of this implemented in Britain? The schemes work in other countries and all we need to do is have a look at them by sending someone over there and then do it.

Oh well... Jobs for the boys, as usual.

© 2010