Potential council tax breaks for those who turn in Liverpool fly-tippers

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson says residents that alert the council of fly-tippers and those not recycling properly should be rewarded, even suggesting that whistleblowers should receive refunds on their council tax.

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The cabinet of Liverpool City Council met on Friday (17 February) to discuss options for improving recycling in the city, approving a report recommending a number of steps aimed at boosting the city’s 33 per cent recycling rate.

Among the measures included in the plan were the introduction of larger recycling sacks, an expansion of weekly recycling services for city centre apartment blocks, piloting weekly recycling in other residential properties, work to upgrade the four-foot alleyways serving 28,000 terraced properties and doubling the number of teams tackling fly-tipping.

In addition, Mayor Anderson called for a greater emphasis on finding and tackling residents who choose not to recycle, illegally dispose of waste or fail to clean up after their dogs.

Speaking after the meeting, Anderson said: “I have asked officers to come up with a series of enforcement measures that we can use to drive the required change in behaviour in those residents that fail to responsibly manage their waste.

“Can we reward those residents that let us know who is fly-tipping, whose dogs are fouling our streets and or are not recycling properly? Should we look at making it compulsory to recycle? We need to look seriously at these measures and more to encourage and reward civic pride.”

Though the council’s official minutes give no indication of precise rewards that could be offered to residents for exposing fly-tippers, a number of local and national publications are suggesting that refunds on council tax could be used to provide an incentive.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Anderson has suggested offering a year’s free council tax to those who can provide photographic evidence to the council of owners repeatedly failing to recycle or to clean up their dog’s mess. According to the paper, Anderson explained the idea, saying it would be “cost neutral for us, because we will be able to fine these people the maximum amount”.

Recyclable material going to landfill racking up unnecessary bill

The wider changes to Liverpool’s recycling approach come as the council tries to reduce its rising bill for treating waste, explaining that every tonne of residual waste from the city’s purple residual waste bins costs twice as much to treat as recyclable waste, meaning an additional bill of around £1.2 million per year for council tax payers.

A compositional analysis carried out by the Merseyside Waste Recycling Authority (MWRA) in 2015/16 found that 43 per cent of the purple bin contents – around 52,000 tonnes – was food waste that could be composted and diverted from disposal. A further 17.2 per cent (21,000 tonnes) of the purple bin contents was potentially recyclable materials, while a final 4.1 per cent (7,000 tonnes) of kerbside waste collected consisted of potentially reusable things like textiles and small electrical items.

Anderson said: “While we have made huge progress on improving recycling over the last few years, responsible citizens are being undermined by some residents who are putting waste in the wrong bin.

“We recently had a case in Old Swan [an inner city area of Liverpool] where an entire day’s recycling collections were so contaminated with non-recyclable items that the load was rejected at the recycling plant. Instead, it had to be sent to landfill, doubling the cost of processing and disposing of the waste and hitting council taxpayers in the pocket. This example shows how the efforts of all the residents who do the right thing can be undermined by the minority who choose not to.”

Anderson concluded: “We have a challenging recycling target of 55 per cent to hit by 2020 and so we have to think creatively about what we can do.”

Changes to Liverpool recycling

Liverpool’s recycling service currently consists of 196,000 properties receiving a fortnightly recycling collection using 240-litre wheeled bins and 1,100-litre communal bins, and 28,000 terraced properties that receive a fortnightly collection of 55-litre boxes.

After the cabinet approved the report presented at the meeting on Friday, in the next six months the city will expand weekly recycling services to all city centre flats, while the 28,000 terraced properties will see their 55-litre boxes replaced with 90-litre reusable sacks. Weekly recycling will also be piloted in some of the terraced areas, which achieve an average recycling rate of 15.6 per cent, compared to the best performing areas of the city that reach rates of 30-40 per cent.

The improvement programme will also see the creation of two additional teams to tackle fly-tipping and additional resources for enforcement action against fly-tippers.

The council has also commissioned a city-wide marketing and publicity drive to promote the environmental benefits of recycling with the aim of increasing resident participation in the services currently on offer. This message will be supplemented with focused messaging in the city’s poorest performing wards.

The full report presented to Liverpool City Council’s cabinet can be read on the council’s website.

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