Press release

New era where families are rewarded for recycling - not fined or bullied

Millions of families across the country who recycle their household rubbish will now be rewarded with cash prizes, shopping vouchers and loyalty points.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today (14 March 2015) announced the projects which will receive additional government funding to help families recycle without facing the threat of unfair bin fines or cuts to bin collection services.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the scheme, the initial £5 million fund has been increased by a further £6.1 million bringing the total amount of government money for this round of reward schemes to £11.1 million.

The extra funding will help councils with weekly collections increase recycling rates through incentives, which will divert an estimated 250,000 tonnes of waste from landfill or incineration. The move comes as the Deregulation Bill reaches its final stages in Parliament, and is set to abolish the powers that hit households with unfair bin fines for breaching complex and arbitrary waste rules.

Notable projects include a plan in Dover and Shepway to introduce a ‘reverse vending machine’ that will distribute rewards in exchange for recycling, while residents of 4 London boroughs (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, and Wandsworth) stand the chance to win a £20,000 prize.

Funding will go to 46 projects across 60 council areas, presenting a wide range of methods including partnership working with parishes, schools, and community and faith groups. Some families will receive incentives for bringing materials not recycled at the kerbside to recycling banks and there will be more of a focus on flats and other areas, which have traditionally had poor recycling rates.

Eric Pickles said:

It is a myth that fortnightly bin collections or unfair bin fines are needed to increase recycling. Rewards for recycling show how working with families can deliver environmental benefits without the draconian approach of punishing people and leaving out smelly rubbish.

This government is protecting the local environment by supporting recycling, as well as championing weekly collections which protect local amenity and public health.

There is an alternative to the town hall bin barons who pushed through fortnightly bin collections and are now trying to move to monthly bin collections by stealth, which is why we have ushered in a new era where families are rewarded for doing the right thing rather than being bullied into it.

Further information

The scheme supports those councils which operate a weekly collection of rubbish.

It builds on the success of around 40 projects already supported by government money to trial and pilot reward programmes.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead’s reward scheme was the first of its kind in this country when it launched in 2010 and the council now lets thousands of residents earn points for recycling, which they can then spend at local shops. This has been a big success and boosted recycling in the borough by more than a third.

See the full list of the 46 projects that will receive funding.

Supporting frontline services

To date, this government in England has:

  • issued the first ever Whitehall guidance on weekly bin collections

  • stopped Audit Commission inspections which marked down councils who do not adopt fortnightly rubbish collections, and rejected Audit Commission guidance which advocated fortnightly collections

  • abolished the local area agreements and National Indicator 191 imposed by Whitehall which created perverse incentives to downgrade waste collection services

  • scrapped the Whitehall requirement for municipal annual efficiency statements, which allowed a reduction in the frequency of a household rubbish collection service to qualify as a ‘valid efficiency’ and allowed revenue from bin fines to be classed as a ‘cashable efficiency gain’

  • scrapped the imposition of eco-towns which would have had fortnightly bin collections and/or bin taxes as part of the ‘eco-standards’

  • safeguarded weekly collections for 6 million households through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme as well as championing innovation and best practice

  • supported around 40 innovative reward schemes to back recycling through the Weekly Collection Support Scheme (as pledged in the Coalition Agreement)

  • through the Localism Act, revoked the 2008 legislation that allowed for the imposition of new bin taxes

  • issued guidance to stop the imposition of illegal ‘backdoor bin charging’ on households bins

  • removing powers of entry and snooping powers from inspectors and scrapped guidance telling councils to rifle through families’ bins

  • changing building regulations to tackle ‘bin blight’

  • changing the law through the Deregulation Bill to scrap unfair bin fines

  • changing the law to prevent councils introducing ‘backdoor charges’ for residents to use heir local tip to dispose of household waste

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Published 14 March 2015