Consultation on preventing charges for DIY waste at household waste recycling centres and call for evidence on booking systems at household waste recycling centres

Closes 4 Jul 2022

Introduction

The Government believes that local taxpayers deserve a comprehensive waste and recycling service in return for the council tax they pay for local services.1 

Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) play an important role in helping people manage the waste they produce in a convenient and sustainable way. They play a key role in supporting kerbside collections and in boosting recycling.  They need to be accessible to all residents – both in when they are available, and by not charging fees that some may be unable to afford. They help ensure waste is disposed of in a responsible way, rather than being fly-tipped. 

Our Resources and Waste Strategy 2018 commits us to ensuring charging regimes are clear, and to ensuring that householders are not charged for depositing small-scale construction waste (“DIY waste”) at HWRCs.  

Position today 

Section 51 of the Environment Protection Act 1990 requires councils who are Waste Disposal Authorities to provide residents with a place to dispose of their household waste (usually HWRCs). 

The Local Government (Prohibition of Charges at Household Waste Recycling Centres) (England) Order 2015 and The Local Authorities (Prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015 prevent councils in England from charging residents to deposit household waste at HWRCs. Both Orders state that “household waste” has the same meaning as in section 75 of the 1990 Act as read with regulation 3 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (‘2012 regulations’). The 2015 Orders were passed to clarify the legal position that householders should be able to dispose of their household waste for free. 

In the 2012 regulations, “Waste from construction or demolition works, including preparatory works” is classified as industrial waste.  Despite WRAP guidance to the contrary, some local authorities have continued to interpret this as including not only waste from the professional construction of buildings and their demolition, but also waste from DIY works a householder might undertake to maintain and enhance their property. As a result, in some areas, householders face charges to dispose of DIY waste at HWRCs. This is clearly against long-standing government policy, re-affirmed in 20162 after the passage of the 2015 Orders. 

In the 2018 Resources & Waste Strategy, the Government stated: “It’s important that local residents are able to dispose of their rubbish in a responsible and convenient manner. We will therefore ensure that charging arrangements in the Controlled Waste Regulations are clear, especially in relation to waste arising from small scale DIY construction activities carried out by ordinary householders with no specialist skills, which Government has been clear should not be charged for. We will review Household Waste Recycling Centre services and the Controlled Waste Regulations and, subject to consultation, will amend them to ensure they remain fit for purpose, charges are fairly applied, and that services are accessible, support high levels of recycling, and deliver value for money" (p.75). 

We are therefore consulting on the technical detail of our proposal to amend legislation so that local residents cannot be charged for disposing of DIY waste at their local HWRCs. 

New Burdens 

The New Burdens Doctrine (NBD) aims to make sure the local government sector gets the support they need.  

DLUHC Ministers have decided to waive the NBD in relation to the DIY waste disposal proposal because this policy will ensure householders can dispose of DIY waste free of charge. This supports the government’s wider strategy on environmental protection as it will remove a financial disincentive to dispose of waste properly. DLUHC has therefore decided that LAs, which currently charge householders to dispose of DIY waste, will be required to absorb any associated costs.  

The NBD is Government guidance. DLUHC Ministers have the right to deviate from Government guidance if there is a good reason.   

Amending the legislation will help ensure DIY waste is disposed of properly, reducing the risk of waste, such as plaster board, being placed in residual waste bins. It will also reduce the potential risk of fly-tipping, littering and backyard burning, creating additional costs for local authorities and causes environmental issues. 

References:

  1.  DCLG, Preventing ‘backdoor’ charging at household waste recycling centres, March 2015.
  2.  https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2016-11-23/54659