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Preventing Household Waste in Scotland: A Consultation Paper: January 2006, Paper 2006/1

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5 Communities

"The community sector plays a significant role in reducing, reusing and recycling waste and raising awareness."

Ross Finnie MSP, Minister for the Environment

Introduction

5.1 Many waste prevention measures happen as a matter of course as we interact with our friends and neighbours, for instance sharing the purchase of a garden lawnmower, borrowing that DVD; organising a car boot sale; a toy-swap at the local nursery; sharing excess garden produce. People do it - but not in the name of waste prevention.

5.2 In a more formalised way, the community recycling sector takes an active role in waste prevention. The Community Recycling Network for Scotland ( CRNS) receives funding from the Scottish Executive to support and develop the capacity of the sector.

Education and awareness

5.3 With their roots in the community, community sector organisations are well placed to educate and raise awareness about waste prevention - from simply putting up posters of 'this week's waste suggestion'; placing articles in the local newspaper, to running sessions in schools or adult education classes.

Waste exchange

5.4 The UK has a long-standing tradition of second-hand shops and markets, operated by both the private and voluntary sector, selling a wide range of goods including clothes, books, cars, bric a brac and furniture. Websites such as e-bay and free-cycle ( www.freecycle.org ) have extended this long-standing tradition. The latest trend of 'decluttering' helps to bolster the supply to these schemes.

Re-use and repair

5.5 A number of projects in Scotland promote the re-use of furniture. This helps divert furniture away from landfill and also helps disadvantaged communities that might find it difficult to purchase furniture. More information can be obtained from http://www.morethanfurniture.org.uk / Other community sector bodies are active in other areas of re-use, such as the repair of electrical equipment, and reuse of carpets or paint.

5.6 However, in other areas, there has been a decline in re-use. For example, the cost of many new retail items has stayed the same or come down in recent years, thus reducing the economic incentive to have items repaired. In other areas (eg paint, which can be hazardous), no strategic approach has been taken in Scotland to collecting and using material for which the original owner no longer has any use. Other jurisdictions, such as Flanders, have a network of re-use shops. In some areas of the UK community re-paint initiatives exist, to distribute surplus paint: http://www.communityrepaint.org.uk/about2002.htm

5.7 There may be a case for a further examination of the repair and re-use sector (private, community and public) in Scotland, to see if its potential for reducing waste has been fully established. One option might be for local authorities, as part of their waste prevention campaigns, to provide vouchers for council-tax payers which would give rebates for services provided by repair shops, to encourage the use of such shops.

5.8 There may also be a case for further work on taking a Scotland-wide over-view of issues such as ensuring that furniture, paint, carpets and other products are re-used.

Question 23: Do you consider more could be done to promote the re-use, repair and second-hand sector in Scotland? If so, what?

Question 24: Do you consider more work should be done to take a Scotland-wide over-view of the re-use of products such as furniture, paint and carpets? If so, what?

Community composting

5.9 Community composting is not as well developed in Scotland as in England and Wales, although there are a number of successful initiatives being run in Scotland. These involve a community sector organisation composting waste from a relatively local area - waste could be brought to site by householders, or collected by the group. Compost is generally used/sold locally. There are a number of possible reasons why community composting is not developing quickly in Scotland: the climate; the perceived complexity of complying with both Waste Management Licensing and Animal By-Product Regulations; the marginal economics of community composting; compost markets that are at early stages of development; and fit with current local authority strategies. The CRNS have recruited a community compost development officer to assist existing and potential projects in Scotland.

Question 25: Do you could consider more could be done to promote community composting in Scotland? If so, what?

Funding

5.10 The Scottish Executive believes that, as a general rule, community waste sector organisations should seek and obtain sustainable sources of funding. Such funding can come from a variety of sources including sale of products or services and service-level agreements or contracts with local authorities (including non-waste Departments, such as social work).

5.11 The guidance to local authorities on the Strategic Waste Fund encourages authorities to work with the community sector. The relevant extract from the guidance says:

"3.12 The potential benefits of working in partnership with other organisations such as the not-for-profit sector should be explored wherever possible. Building on existing experience and expertise as well as using established links with the community are important factors for the successful delivery of the AWP [Area Waste Plan] and such schemes would be looked upon favourably."

5.12 A number of community sector projects have been supported by local authorities, after they have received funding from the Executive's Strategic Waste Fund.

5.13 The Scottish Executive recognises that it may be difficult to obtain funding for waste prevention work as waste prevention can be hard to measure and is not necessarily top of bodies' priorities. The Scottish Executive has established a fund specifically for community waste sector organisations called INCREASEhttp://www.increase-programme.org.uk /, which provides £2.5 million a year until 2007/08. A number of waste prevention projects have been supported through this programme.

5.14 An example of a waste prevention project is the Ross-Shire Waste Action Network ( RoWAN) - www.rowanweb.org.uk This offered intensive support to 100 householders in Ross-shire to help reduce their waste. This support entailed a detailed local waste guide; a monthly project bulletin; regular meetings; equipment giveaways; factsheets; feedback charts for individual households own results; special events; 1:1 advice from project officer. The project achieved:

  • 22% reduction in waste arisings
  • recycling rate of 48%
  • 66% reduction in waste to landfill

The project has received further funding from INCREASE and is now expanding to cover 4000 households on a Refuse Collection Vehicle route.

Question 26: Do you think that current community waste funding sources are designed to encourage waste prevention projects? If not, what changes do you think are required?

Recycling credits

5.15 At present local authorities have a power to pay, under section 52 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a recycling credit to third parties (such as the community sector) who recycle waste, and thus reduce the costs of waste disposal. The CRNS, with the support of the Scottish Executive, are currently carrying out a survey of local authorities to establish how widely recycling credits are used in Scotland.

5.16 The Scottish Ministers lay down, by regulations, how local authorities can calculate the net savings in expenditure when recycling credits are paid. The last regulations, made in 2000, are at: http://www.opsi.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2000/20000185.htm

5.17 Under section 52(5) of the 1990 Act, the Scottish Ministers may make it mandatory for authorities to pay recycling credits. This power has not been exercised. There is an argument that, with the advent of the Strategic Waste Fund and INCREASE, recycling credits are no longer required. There is a further argument that recycling credits should only be available for certain materials (eg plastics rather than aluminium).

Question 27: Do consultees consider that recycling credits should be mandatory? If so, why?

5.18 A further issue is whether recycling credits should be extended to waste prevention. In England and Wales, the Environmental Protection Act 1990 has just been amended to make it clear that recycling credits extend to re-use. However, they still do not extend to waste prevention. Any changes in Scotland would require primary legislation and further consultation. It might be difficult to extend Recycling Credits to waste prevention as prevention is difficult to measure unless a "before and after" exercise is undertaken.

Question 28: Do consultees consider that recycling credits should be extended to re-use and/or waste prevention?