New bin bag tax: Households to be charged for filling more than ONE sack


Last updated at 12:56 06 October 2007

Families who throw out more than one sack of rubbish each week are being forced to pay a controversial "bin bag tax".

In a scheme which could soon be rolled out across the UK, dustmen will be ordered not to collect refuse unless it is left in official colour-coded bin bags provided by the council.

Homes will be given just one free sack every week and must pay 28p for each additional bag - at least three times as much as an ordinary black bag from a supermarket.

That would leave a typical family producing four bags of rubbish a week paying £40 a year to their local authority on top of council tax.

Supporters of the scheme say it encourages recycling and reduces the amount of waste poured into landfill tips. But angry residents say it is nothing but a stealth tax that will increase fly-tipping.

The scheme is the latest attempt by town hall chiefs to crack down on residents who put out "too much" rubbish.

Last week, one London borough introduced £100 on-the-spot fines for those who do not recycle enough and revealed that bin bag inspectors would be routinely be rummaging through dustbins to find offenders.

Another half a dozen councils have introduced 'compulsory recycling' and are threatening residents with fines up to £1,000.

The bin bag tax scheme is being introduced next month by Tory-run Broxbourne Council in Hertfordshire, and is being closely watched by other authorities around the UK. They are desperate for new ways to avoid steep Government fines for producing too much landfill waste.

Locals are furious at the scheme which is being tested on 3,000 homes in Goffs Oak and which could be rolled out across the borough next year.

BT worker Jack Jerome, 54, said: "I have a large family with children and grandchildren at the house all the time. We do recycle but we still produce five or six bags of rubbish a week.

"We already pay £138 a month in council tax and this looks like more tax by the back door. It is going to cost me and my family £50 or £60 extra a year. They have just found another way to tax us."

Neighbour Shirley Finch, 62, said: "I think it is disgusting. We already pay enough tax for them to collect our rubbish. I do recycle but I still usually put out two bags a week. They are taxing my rubbish."

In a letter to residents, the council says it will hand out 26 free purple bin bags branded with the borough's logo for the sixmonth scheme.

It tells them: "The council has decided on this allocation to encourage as many of the participating households to recycle more of their rubbish and thereby reduce their non-recyclable waste put out for collection to one sack per week."

Families who need more sacks have to buy them from the council for 28p each. A similar bin bag made from recycled plastic costs around 8p from a supermarket.

Locals will have four weeks to get used to the scheme, which starts on November 8. After that any black sacks put out will not be collected, the council letter says.

"Although the council hopes it will not be necessary to do so, householders who continue to put out their rubbish in black sacks or any other sack from the fifth collection onwards will risk enforcement action," it adds. This means fines of up to £1,000.

The scheme was inspired by Eden Council in Cumbria, which brought in colour coded bags in

2004. However, it gives householders two bags every week.

Broxbourne says its plan is an alternative to the hated fortnightly collections where recyclables - such as cans and paper are collected one week, and food and other non-recyclables the next.

So-called alternate weekly collections - which mean food waste and nappies sit for up to a fortnight in the dustbin - are used by a third of councils.

A Broxbourne spokesman said: "This is not a stealth tax - we do not force people to buy additional purple bags. If people want help in reducing the amount of waste they produce, a recycling adviser will help them out."

Like many councils, Broxbourne has only a limited doorstep recycling service. It collects glass bottles and jars, paper and cans, but not plastics, paper food packaging or foil.

In May the Government said those who fail to recycle should pay more than those who do. Its Waste Strategy said councils should be able to bring in charges for rubbish collection and 'reward' householders who produce less waste.

However, Broxbourne has yet to bring in any incentives for its active recyclers to offset the penalties paid by those who do not recycle enough.

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