Local Authority Waste Charging Scheme
Best Practice Evaluation Study

June 2000

Executive Summary

  1. This report has been prepared by Enviros Aspinwall (Aspinwall) on behalf of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Forum for Environmental Research (SNIFFER) and presents the findings of a research study into local authority charging schemes for household waste. The primary purpose of the project is to review international experience in developing and implementing charging schemes for household waste, and to identify best practice. Directly charging householders for the collection and disposal of their waste is one of a number of measures that have been adopted in other countries to encourage householders to participate in recycling and waste minimisation.

  2. The research identifies the range of waste charging schemes that are commonly used internationally and focuses on a number of case studies from each international area to demonstrate their effectiveness and performance in meeting their stated objectives. The geographical scope of the research covered:

  3. An overview of the charging schemes in place in each country together with detailed case studies of individual schemes are provided in Chapters 3 (North America), 4 (Europe) and 5 (Australia). The study has focused on case studies where the responsibility for municipal waste management lies with the local authority and where services are provided directly by the authority or by a contractor on its behalf. The strengths and weaknesses of the different systems have also been assessed.

  4. Overall the most commonly-used methods of variable rate charging for household waste collection and disposal services can be classified into four types:

    1. Bag or Tag/Sticker Schemes: under this system the waste collector only picks up waste that has been placed in specially identified bags or containers. Householders may purchase either special bags or tags/stickers which must be fixed to the regular bags or containers used by householders.

    2. Volume-based schemes: whereby householders choose a waste container or bin of a certain volume and an annual charge is based on the container volume, and often the collection frequency as well.

    3. Frequency-based schemes: the main characteristic of these schemes is that householders choose the frequency (within limits) of their waste uplift service and are charged accordingly for this service.

    4. Weight-based schemes: involve the use of collection vehicles fitted with automated weight-recording devises, these record the mass of the waste during the collection operation at each household. Bins are fitted with a high-frequency electronic identification transponders for logging of the household data relating to each waste uplift.

  5. In addition many authorities have implemented 'hybrid' systems comprising different components of the above systems. In addition many charging schemes comprise a fixed fee component (i.e. for a basic level of service provision) and a variable fee component (i.e. for a more frequent collection service or for the collection of additional containers of waste above the specified minimum limit).

  6. The results of this research study can be summarised as follows:

  7. It would appear from the results of this review that a number of factors need to be considered in designing and introducing such variable charging schemes; these include:

    Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, price 15.00, less 20% to FWR Members.