His comments come after the Conservative Party Shadow Chancellor George Osborne announced that it would encourage local authorities to use the RecycleBank scheme to incentivise people to recycle rather than “punish” them with bin taxes.
RecycleBank is currently running a trial scheme in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in partnership with Veolia, where residents have been able to receive £130 in vouchers for shops such as Marks & Spencer according to how much they recycle by weight.
Labour-run Halton Borough Council in Cheshire is also trialling the RecycleBank initiative.
Levett told MRW that endorsing the RecycleBank scheme will help councils increase recycling rates and reduce their landfill tax costs. He added: “We are extremely keen that all three national political parties endorse the scheme because we believe the carrot is better than the stick. The evidence of the trials we have done so far shows it is just as successful here as it is in the US. This is not a party political issue. We want cross party support.”
The RecycleBank scheme has been successful in the US, increasing recycling rates by up to 200 per cent in 500 cities across the country.
He said using the penalty approach was a “recipe for disaster” and that Veolia recognised that penalty regimes were unlikely to be attractive “in the sense that they are unpopular for residents and attract adverse publicity for councils”.
Last week, Osborne also announced that a Conservative Government would “put a floor under the announced 2013 level of landfill tax until 2020. This will guarantee that the landfill tax will not fall in real terms for 10 years”. The landfill tax currently stands at £40 per tonne and is set to rise to £72 per tonne in the next three years. Osborne did not state what rate the landfill tax would be from 2013 onwards.
Levett said that he welcomed Osborne’s statement on putting a floor under landfill tax until 2020. He said he welcomed the certainty and that the certainty was critical if the industry was to rely less on landfill and invest in new waste technology.
“The industry requires billions of pounds of investment. All we need is the certainty so we can make our decisions. The rate is not the most important thing - the certainty is.”
Green technology firm Peterborough Renewable Energy also supported Osborne’s statement on landfill tax. Managing director Chris Williams said: “The commitment by George Osborne to maintain the level of taxation on landfill on or above the 2013 rate will ensure – if implemented – that local authorities are incentivised to look for alternative methods to deal with municipal waste.”