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Councils can legitimately charge residents to deposit DIY waste at their HWRCs

This is because it is not classified as household waste

The government’s Litter Strategy is muddled and contradictory on this matter


Councils have to provide HWRCs

Under Section 51 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

.. it shall be the duty of each waste disposal authority to arrange … for places to be provided at which persons resident in its area may deposit their household waste … (1) (b).

They must be reasonably accessible to persons resident in its area (2) (a), open at reasonable times including  Saturday and available free of charge by persons resident in the area (2) (c)

Many councils now charge residents for leaving DIY  waste at Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs)  or ration the amount they can leave.

Contrary to what is stated in the Government’s new Litter Strategy councils are entitled to make these charges. It all hinges on the definition of “household waste”


Definition of “household waste”

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 S75 defined “household waste” as waste from a domestic property , a caravan, a residential home, a university, a  schools or a hospitals. DIY waste was therefore included.

However The Controlled Waste Regulations 1992  said that

“waste arising from works of construction or demolition, including waste arising from work preparatory thereto” … shall be treated as household waste for the purposes only of section 34(2). [This exempted occupiers of domestic properties from the EPA S34 regulations applicable to commercial waste operators]. (See S2 of the regulations). Such waste waste was to be treated as industrial waste (See S5).

The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012  re-iterated this by saying that:

.. notwithstanding the place where it is produced… waste from construction or demolition works, including preparatory works …. must be treated for the purposes of Part 2 of the EPA  … as  industrial waste. See Schedule 1 subsection 3 item 9.

[There is one exception where it is still regarded as household waste. That is for the purpose of the EPA S34 (2) and (2A) duty of the householder to transfer it to an authorised person.]

The important thing is that no exception was made for DIY waste. It is no longer therefore household waste for the purposes of EPA S51.


New legislation introduced in 2015 

Local Authorities (Prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015

The Local Government (Prohibition of Charges at Household Waste Recycling Centres) (England) Order 2015  and the The Local Authorities (Prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015

In both Orders state that

““household waste” has the same meaning as in section 75 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990(b) as read with regulation 3 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012(c)”.

Charges for DIY waste are not therefore prohibited by them.


Government’s new Litter Strategy

On page 20 of the Litter Strategy for England it says in reference to HWRCs:

The Government’s view is clear: DIY waste is classed as household waste if it results from work a householder would normally carry out. A number of local authorities have introduced additional charges for the deposit of waste which local authorities categorise as ‘waste other than household waste’.

This view is, as we have seen, at odds with the legislation.

On P21 they go on to say :

Through WRAP, we have provided guidance to local authorities on how they can resolve practical issues associated with adapting HWRCs and ensure that charging is fair, easy to understand and transparent to business and local householders

The WRAP Guidance on HWRCs  includes the following table showing that councils can indeed charge for DIY materials. They are also therefore at odds with the advice they have provided to councils.

















On page 21 of the Litter Strategy it goes on to say:

We will work with WRAP and local authorities to: …. • review current guidance to ensure this reflects changes in the law and to make clear what can and cannot be charged for at HWRCs (including in respect of DIY waste);

But the current guidance from WRAP is consistent with the law and does not need to be reviewed.

Andrea Leadsom, then Secretary of State for the Environment wrote to Conservative MPs on  10th April 2017 saying that:

Measures in the Strategy include… Stopping councils from charging householders for disposal
of DIY household waste at civic amenity sites – legally, household waste is supposed to be free
to dispose of at such sites – reducing one of the drivers of fly-tipping

On 16th May 2017 DEFRA wrote to me to say

On HWRCs; as set out in the Litter Strategy, WRAP has been asked to review its existing guidance on HWRCs, to ensure this reflects changes made in the law during 2015 through the Local Authorities (Prohibition of Charging Residents to Deposit Household Waste) Order 2015 and the Local Government (Prohibition of Charges at Household Waste Recycling Centres)(England) Order 2015) and to give further guidance on what can be charged for at HWRCs. WRAP aim to undertake this review during 2017.

On 26th October 2107 DEFRA Minister Therese Coffey stated

We are issuing new guidance with the Department for Communities and Local Government to try to clarify what councils should and should not be charging when people want to use the recycling centre.

On 15th February 2018 I asked DEFRA if they had received the revised guidance. I was told “not yet”.

On 16th February I asked for a copy the the brief that had been given to WRAP.

On 16th March DEFRA replied to say that “There was no specific ‘brief’ given to WRAP beyond what was set out in the Litter Strategy…” and that “Following the litter strategy publication, WRAP decided to take this issue forward through consultation with the National Association of Waste Disposal Officers (NAWDO) and by carrying out a consultation/questionnaire of Waste Disposal Authorities (WDAs)”.

They supplied a useful summary reiterating what was said in the Litter Strategy and how WRAP have decided to take this issue forward. There is nothing to indicate that WRAP are committed to revising their guidance.

They also stated that “We recognise that local authorities will be very keen to see the outcome of this review, particularly those authorities where they are possibly waiting on conclusion of the review to make decisions around HWRCs in their area”.


So are WRAP going to review their guidance or are they not?

What a muddle!

Peter Silverman
23rd March 2018


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