Over 30 councils are already fitting microchips to wheelie bins to enable "pay as you throw" schemes that will charge people based on how much waste they produce.
The proposed schemes will only affect household waste, but a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that the technology could also become more widely adopted by commercial waste contractors serving business premises.
The news – revealed in this week's Real Story programme on BBC One – comes as the Local Government Association is readying a paper to be published later this autumn calling for councils to be given the power to introduce "pay as you throw" schemes that adhere to the polluter pays principle.
Under the proposed schemes rubbish would be weighed to within 500 grams by collection trucks and the chips would be used to identify who the bin belongs to. It is hoped that charges based on how much rubbish you produce will encourage people to recycle more and limit the amount of waste they produce.
The Local Government Association is confident the schemes will win approval, with chairman Paul Bettison reported to be confident that such waste weighing programmes will be widespread within the next two years.
The Daily Mail – which splashed the story on its front page today – also reported that the Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw is sympathetic towards the proposals, despite fears that such schemes encourage fly-tipping and raise the prospect of people throwing rubbish in their neighbours' bins.
The plans will have no immediate impact on commercial premises as firms have to sign up with their own waste disposal specialists some of which already charge based on the weight of rubbish produced. But a DEFRA spokesperson said there was nothing to stop waste contractors deploying similar technology and making the pay as you throw charging principle more widespread.
In practice, it seems highly likely that if councils trial this scheme successfully and people get used to the idea of the polluter pays principle at home then commercial waste firms will move to a similar model - charging right down the last 500 grams of rubbish coming out of any business premises.
As a result astute CSR and facilities officers should be aware of this risk and putting in place plans now to limit the waste being produced by their sites before they start paying through the nose for every bit of cardboard that is not recycled.
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