Cash for Trash? Tories offer a recycling sweetner

November 25, 2009

BRITAIN/On Tuesday, the Tories, still ahead in the opinion polls and widely expected to gain power in an election, which must be held by June 2010, went on a green charm offensive.

It’s unlikely to steal the election, but it nevertheless got heads turning and newspapers gnashing.

The centrepiece of their eye-catching plans to tackle global warming was a scheme where households will be rewarded cash incentives to recycle mountains of trash.

UK households generate around 35 millions of tonnes of waste a year, according to the party. Only around a fifth of that rubbish is recycled – less than half the proportion managed in Germany.

The novel, if not original, idea is that families will accumulate points for all the waste they diligently box up. The points can then be used to claim up to 130 pounds a year in vouchers from big stores like Marks & Spencer, which has already signed up to the scheme.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne in a keynote speech said the savings made in landfill taxes would pay for the vouchers, thereby saving the need for any extra government spending. He has some evidence to prove that it works too.

The scheme has already been piloted by a Tory-run local council with recycling rates rising by 30 percent. Osborne also reported that over half of all eligible households in Windsor and Maidenhead, in Berkshire had chosen to participate.

Moreover, Recyclebank, the American firm behind the idea which is working closely with the local authorities here, says it has successfully increased recycling rates by up to 200 percent in 500 cities and communities across America.

The Tories say Labour’s desire to encourage more recycling has backfired with the threatened use of dustbin taxes that penalise householders who do nothing to recycle. “Carrots work better than sticks,” Osborne said.

Do you think the sweetener would work nationally? And will it encourage you to recycle, to eventually go out and do even more, er, shopping?


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What we’re comparing is a) households which don’t recycle paying landfill tax, and b) everyone paying landfill tax, and households which do recycle getting a rebate.1) b) is always going to be more expensive than a), and it’s the taxpayer who pays.2) if the rebate is in the form of shopping vouchers, parts of it will always remain unspent, pushing up the cost to taxpayers still further. Plus, from personal experience with mobile phones, I know that an inappropriate “reward” can make people less inclined to recycle than no reward at all.3) what about single people? If I live next to a family of six, do I have to recycle six times as much by weight/volume as any of them in order to get the same rebate? That’s neither fair nor an incentive to consume less.4) It’s voluntary. So the people who don’t care, whom you really need to target, are presumably not even taking part.

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive

At last a benefit to all the homes who are recycling! role on June!!

Posted by Matthew Elphinstone-Walker | Report as abusive

As with the current rubbish collections, each council will do their own thing – some collect weekly, some every two weeks: some collect plastic, others don’t: some collect glass, others don’t: and so on.The only certainty is that a vast new army of bureaucrats will arise to administer the many schemes, and taxes will rise to pay for it all.Pity there is no party that stands for ‘less government’.

Posted by bill | Report as abusive