Waste Charges Debate December 2017

dudleyowenDeputy's Blog 2018

Earlier this morning Deputy Roffey outlined 3 ways in which the community will have to pay for their waste…well let’s not forget the 4th…. and that is the purchase cost of the packaging in the first place.

I realise that this policy letter is about how we meet the costs of waste collection and disposal. It is all about charging, but not a mention about we can reduce that cost burden on the community by efforts to minimise the production of waste at source.

This paper looks to me like part of a government formatted business plan and that in itself is not a criticism in fact that is a positive … but this waste issue is becoming a big business and it looks to me that the States are in danger of making a big business out of this and we are the captive customer of this monopoly.

The balance should be struck by putting an emphasis that policies being pursued vigorously to mitigate the costs borne by the householder and businesses.

As with the other States business ventures providing essential services, we go much further than is fair by just covering the cost arising from charges and of running the concern, but we also go further and make more on top from the tax payer…the ultimate shareholder and investors in those businesses and those who provided the initial seed capital for those businesses.

We appear to milk the tax payer in an attempt to make the utilities commercial and even profitable to return dividends to the States, though their only customer base is comprised of the very people they are there to serve. It is nonsensical and this appears to be more of the same.

I am disappointed that there is nothing in the policy letter about how to reduce the burden on the tax payer, it is all about how the expenditure will be recouped not about how to give best value for money in acting as a government not as a profit making organisation.

There is nothing about how a customer, a tax payer can seek to mitigate these costs and glaringly… nothing about attempts to reduce the amount of waste coming into the island in the form of plastics, non-recyclables, film packaging and the like which we are forced to buy and covers or forms part of almost every product available in Guernsey before you have even dealt with the matter of disposing of the item itself.  

I would like to know from Deputy Brehaut: Where are the policies from Environment & Infrastructure providing disincentives for supermarkets to stop unnecessarily wrapping vegetables locally which add to costs for both householder and states in dealing with this waste? Where are the creative initiatives such as becoming “plastic free” like our sister island Alderney?

When are we going to see proposals to ban plastic bags locally? Are the Committee working with Supermarkets to ensure that their empty trailers remove their packaging from Guernsey?

 I know that there is good work done by via the Guernsey Waste Strategy with Reduce Reuse Recyle – but it’s nowhere near enough, in my view, it isn’t making the real difference that we need to adequately deal with this mushrooming problem. This problem which threatens to overwhelm us in terms of cost, operational handing and damage to our environment. We need to get bold, brave and assertive…even aggressive in reducing the amount of waste that enters our island. Why can’t we do it? We are an island we have control over what come in and out? It’s not that we can’t do it…there just doesn’t seem to be the will to do it and there should be. Ramp up the efforts to reduce the waste at source and that will provide the baseline fairness for the tax payer … that is the balance that is needed because overall there will be less waste to deal with.

The recent news that China has banned imports of plastics for recycling from January and how this will create a huge challenge to the UK’s efforts to recycle its plastics….but what are the consequences for us locally? Will this mean that we are unable to ship our plastics to the UK – does some or all of Guernsey’s plastic ultimately find its way to China? Notwithstanding that it is recent news only in the last 7 days, has any thought been given to how this will effect our export and consequentially our charges?

Another question that I would like Deputy Parkinson to answer is: What is the life expectancy of the waste transfer station and how have the costs of this capital spend been calculated such as its lifespan against the total amount of our 25,000 island homes and more business.