There is an indignant Guardian blog by environmentalist Donnachadh McCarthy about how councils spend £4.5 billion on waste disposal and collection – about 18% of the £25.7 billion collected in Council Tax. Where he lives in (Lib Dem-run) Southwark the cost of waste collection and disposal equates to 37% of the Council Tax. The highest ratio in the country is apparently (Lib Dem run) Cambridge where it is 43%.
McCarthy acknowledges the it is more complicated that these figures suggest because of central Government grants. But he still has a point. He looks at evidence from an Audit Commission report Well Disposed and says:
75% of councils do not encourage the use of mail preference services to cut down junk mail, 62% do not work with the private sector to reduce waste, 30% provided no waste reduction education for their public and 30% failed to promote re-use services. Nearly all the effort over the past decade has been about avoiding landfill. So councils have focused on waste incineration and recycling, both of which provide huge revenue streams for major corporations. Many of these waste disposal contracts last for up to 20 years, with some totalling over £4bn of tax-payers' money.
I included promoting the Mail Preference Service in my 100 Ways to Cut Council Tax list suggesting that a typical Council spends £83,000 putting junk mail in landfill. I think Councils should also be promoting freecycle. But why not also ebay? The hippy element might not like the idea of Councils giving free advertising on their website and in their publications to a commercial entity. But ebay have done a heroic amount to reduce landfill and Council Tax bills. If they make a profit doing so then good for them.