Chips in wheelie bins could be used to help the UK meet targets to reduce its CO2 emissions.

The so called 'chip and bin' scheme could see chips put in bins to collect data on the weight of household rubbish in order to encourage people to recycle more and throw away less.

Changes to the draft Climate Change Bill published this week reveal the government is keen to promote incentives for waste minimisation as part of its greater commitment to reducing greenhouse gases - in order to meet its target of reducing the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050. It definitely won't be a tax... It is more an incentive to encourage people to recycle.

The Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill: The Government Response to Pre-Legislative Scrutiny and Public Consultation report states: "The government plans to tackle further the issue of landfilling waste by providing power to pilot local authority incentives for household waste minimisation and recycling. We will announce proposals in due course. These plans are being taken forward through the Climate Change Bill and, if replicated more widely, could save up to two [million] to six million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020."

According to government figures, landfill is responsible for three per cent of the UK's total CO2 emissions. The idea of charging households on the amount of rubbish they generate is controversial and has evoked fierce opposition among readers. But the plan does not appear to be on the scrap heap just yet. Last week, there was speculation the government was backing away from a 'pay as you throw' scheme, with media reports that an announcement about a 'bin tax' had been blocked.

But a spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told there had been no plan for an announcement at that time. She said: "We never had a date. We still haven't got a date for when we're going to be publishing the way forward because we're still developing the policy."

Schemes to reduce household rubbish could include chip and bin - where rubbish is assessed on weight - or other methods that, for instance, measure the size of containers used or require households to buy particular bags. The specifics of waste minimisation schemes would be up to local authorities, said the Defra spokeswoman.

At present, local authorities are banned from doing any charging on waste, she said - so the aim of the bill is to give councils in England the power to pilot schemes if they want to. Councils would have to meet certain criteria before being able to establish a waste charging scheme, she said. The legislation will spell out what a local authority has to do before they could implement any waste charging scheme - for instance they would have to have a very good curb-side collection that allows people to recycle as much as they can. And they would have to have a fly tipping prevention strategy in place before they would be allowed to do any of this.

Defra said it's still very much up to local authorities as to whether they want to do it - in communication with their constituents. Rubbish charging schemes are more likely to happen in rural places than urban locations, according to the spokeswoman, as recycling is easier where people have more room to do it. She added: "It definitely won't be a tax... It is more an incentive to encourage people to recycle so it would be cost neutral in that the people who refuse to do any recycling would be paying for the people who do lots."


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