Conservatives to give vouchers to reward recycling

December 18, 2009 at 4:13 pm

The shadow chancellor, George Osborne, has said that if the Conservative Party win next year’s election they will reward households that increase the amount of rubbish they recycle. Conservative-controlled Windsor and Maidenhead Council have already piloted the plan. In order to meet EU targets the UK must reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill sites from 1995 levels by 25% in 2010 and by 65% in 2020.

The scheme mirrors the Recycle Banks that operate in over 500 cities in the United States. This has reduced the amount of landfill tax that each city pays and some of the money saved is funnelled back to individual households. It is an American company, RecycleBank, which operates the reward scheme for the council. On average households will be rewarded with £130 of shopping vouchers per year.

Residents are issued with special roadside recycling bins. Each has a unique barcode that is scanned by specialist equipment on the truck. The recycle bin is weighed and the information is linked to the household address on the RecycleBank Rewards Account website.

In his speech to the Green Alliance Mr Osborne was keen to emphasise the Conservatives’ reward initiative. ‘Carrots work better than sticks’, he said. This was to contrast their policy with the Government’s plan for a rubbish bin tax. Although the Conservatives’ proposal has been broadly welcomed by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, the charity Waste Watch was more cautious. It acknowledged that the scheme should spur households on to recycle but was concerned that we should all be encouraged to produce less waste in the first place.

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