William Eichler 13 May 2019

‘Smart bins’ and tax cuts could help increase recycling rates, report says

Local authorities could use ‘smart bins’ and council tax cuts to help drive up recycling rates in their areas, a new study has recommended.

The new report, published by the Social Market Foundation, argues that the use of bins fitted with waste sensors could allow councils to record household recycling rates.

This information would, in turn, help local authorities to plan more efficient rubbish collection routes, which would lead to savings.

These savings could also be passed on to the residents who recycle the most through council tax cuts.

The proposal is part of a Vodafone-supported SMF report looking at the benefits and challenges associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – the rise of robotics, big data, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

As well as the introduction of smart household bins, the report recommends smart street lighting, parking space vacancy sensors, and road repair drones. The latter identify potholes and repair them by spraying asphalt.

‘Quite rightly, there is growing concern about the environment and the amount of waste produced by UK households,’ said Scott Corfe, chief economist at the SMF and author of the report.

‘Local government needs to explore how new technologies – including smart bins – can dramatically drive up recycling rates and reduce waste.’

‘Critically, we need to ensure that all parts of the UK are doing their bit to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill,’ he continued.

‘At the moment there are huge differences in recycling rates across the country, ranging from close to two thirds in East Riding of Yorkshire to a paltry 14% in the London Borough of Newham.

‘To get households on board with the green agenda, it is important that carrots are used, as well as the occasional stick. A council tax rebate for households that do their bit for the environment, by not producing as much as waste, would be a good reward for doing the right thing.’

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