NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 30, 2008

Great Britain is in the midst of a trash crisis, with dwindling landfill space and one of Europe\'s poorest recycling records.  Threatened with steep fines if they dump too much trash, local governments around the country are imposing strict regimens to force residents to produce less and recycle more, says the New York Times.

For example:

  • Many local governments now collect trash only twice a month, instead of every week.
  • They restrict households to a limited amount of garbage and refuse to pick up more.
  • They require that garbage be put out only at specific times.
  • They impose fines (often in the hundreds of dollars) for failure to comply with their rigid restrictions.
  • Other forms of punishment include receiving a "sticker of shame" that informs the public a resident has violated local garbage laws.
  • Britain may begin experimenting with programs under which households would pay a "garbage bill," similar to an electricity or water bill, according to how much garbage they throw out.

The British government says the new regulations are necessary if Britain is to adjust to the changing times:

  • Along with the rest of Europe, Britain has been ordered to reduce the waste it puts in landfills -- by 2015, to 50 percent of what is was in 1995 -- or face untold millions of dollars in European Union fines.
  • In 1997, Britain recycled just 7 percent of its waste, compared with 33 percent now.
  • More than 60 percent of Britain\'s waste ends up in landfills, compared with 55 percent for the United States in 2006.

Source: Sarah Lyall, "Laws Tell Britons Exactly How to Take Out Trash," New York Times, June 27, 2008.

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