Certain types of builders’ waste could be scrapped

Certain types of builders’ waste could be scrapped

It’s been a particular hobby horse of ours for years, of course, but finally there are signs that this one at least could finally be destined for the knacker’s yard. Or more appropriately, perhaps, that it should be sent to the local recycling centre, because it’s been announced this month that fees to dispose of certain types of builders’ waste could be scrapped. Consultation documents published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) propose scrapping charges for getting rid of small quantities of rubbish such as shed or fence panels, tiles, plasterboard, and paving slabs. It seems that the Government has finally woken up to the fact that the big stick approach to recycling is not necessarily the holy grail for a better world, and that a more relaxed approach will actually save local councils much needed cash in the long run.

Paradoxically, the change of mood seems to be the result of one of the consequences of the pandemic, which has seen an explosion in home and garden improvements these past two years. Good news on many levels but, unfortunately, even the smallest DIY project creates waste which needs to be disposed of and faced with unprecedented queues – and a bewildering scale of fees for various types of rubbish – some unscrupulous members of the public invariably choose to dump their waste down quiet country lanes and local beauty spots. In fact, one of the Professional Builder team almost came a cropper on a dark mid-winters evening when he just managed to stop just short of a huge pile of rubble which had been unceremoniously dumped right in the middle of a road near his home!

Apart from the obvious risk to life and limb, of course, there is the not inconsiderable time and resources invested by local authorities to remove this unsightly and potentially verminous waste from blighting our communities. In fact, in 2021 local councils recorded a mind blowing – but almost certainly conservative – one million incidents of fly tipping, and those appalling numbers show no sign of abating despite the return to some semblance of normal post Covid life. Not all of the blame can be laid at the door of anti-social home improvers, of course. Unfortunately, we are only too aware of those who operate on the fringes of our own industry and will cut all manner of corners to secure a contract for lucrative renovations and repairs. Doing away with a skip, or ignoring the legal requirement to secure an appropriate waste licence, or commercial vehicle permit, can make the difference between winning a job or not, but should immediately ring alarm bells amongst potential customers who must never be afraid to ask probing questions about where their waste will end up.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask, but a bit of common sense at the recycling centres wouldn’t also go a miss. In our experience the whole process varies tremendously from one depot to another with some staff adopting a very different stance with certain items. Overzealous enforcers seem to view the casual visitor with deep suspicion as though, instead of being a responsible member of society, they are somehow trying to get one over the system. Woe betides anyone who attempts to put a non-designated item in the wrong container! And who considered it was a good idea to charge an annual fee of £40 for green waste wheelies? The only thing that has achieved is the proliferation of something we really thought had long been condemned to the dustbin……… back yard bonfires and all the implications that has for a cleaner environment.

Hopefully, this new document will see the light of day and bring in a generally much lighter touch to the whole process of rubbish disposal. It’s a rare opportunity to right a growing wrong and one that none of us can afford to quite literally let go to waste.

If you have a view let it be known with the consultation running until 4th July.

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