After years of debate, the final part of Guernsey's waste strategy could be decided this week.
The controversial "Household Charging Mechanisms" will be discussed during the States of Guernsey meeting which starts on Wednesday 18 April, with the States Trading Supervisory Board and the Committee for the Environment and Infrastructure putting forward joint recommendations for the new scheme.
Changes to Guernsey's rubbish collection systems are due to start being introduced from the second half of 2018 so residents can "familiarise themselves" with the new arrangements before new charges are introduced as well.
E&I and STSB has previously said: "The new charging system will follow changes to the way household waste and recycling are collected, from September this year. This will give islanders time to familiarise themselves with the revised arrangements before the new charges come into effect.
"The changes include a new weekly collection of food waste, plus fortnightly collection of all other waste and recycling for the majority of homes. The only exception will be some homes in St Peter Port, which will have a weekly collection for general black bag waste. The new collections also include separate glass recycling."
Under the new waste strategy, new charges will be introduced to pay for it. The options range from charging £2.50 per bag of rubbish plus an annual States fixed charge of £85 per household, or "a purely 'polluter pays approach'" that could initially cost between £3.90 and £4.80 per bag.
The average cost per household is still expected to be within the previous estimate of £7.00 a week, which would cover all waste and recycling collections, the processing and export of materials for recycling, recovery or disposal.
The estimated cost includes £32 million that is currently being invested in new services and facilities to collect, process, and sort waste and recycling before the materials are exported for recycling, energy recovery or disposal.
However, the States may decide to fund that from the Capital Reserve which would reduce future waste bills by around £60 per household per year – which would bring down the estimated costs from an average of £7.00 a week to £5.90.
The alternative is a loan from the States of Guernsey bond, which will then be repaid from household and commercial waste charges over the next 20 years.
No date has yet been set for the new charges to be introduced, but the changeover is expected to be in January or February 2019.
The new system will replace the current charging system, under which households pay parish rates, part of which covers the cost of waste collection and disposal. That charge is based on TRP and the average for 2018 is expected to be around £130. From next year, parishes will only charge for the collections while the States will then recover the costs of any subsequent processing, treatment and disposal.
However, many concerns have been raised about rising costs, with the St Peter Port Constables among the most prominent critics of the proposals.
Dennis Le Moignan and Jennifer Tasker said in a letter to deputies, that the Town Douzaine have "several concerns" which have been "voiced by many Parishioners" which centre on increased costs and fly-tipping.
The concerns raised by the St Peter Port Constables are not unique to the Parish, with many island residents having raised the same and similar concerns over recent years as decisions were made about dealing with Guernsey's waste, but the St Peter Port Constables put their concerns on record, writing that "Whilst the means of funding capital costs have not yet been decided, and hence the balance between WDA flat fees and per bag sticker charges is not yet known" the Parish authorities are "concerned that the overall cost of waste disposal will be unaffordable for many of the lower paid, pensioners and those on a fixed income."
Mr Le Moignan and Mrs Tasker also said that "whilst those receiving social security benefits will have assistance in meeting these costs, many others will struggle with the estimated £7 per week" compared to the existing TRP based Rates system which they said sees many people paying less than £1.00 a week for waste collection at the moment.
If approved this week, the ‘pay as you throw’ element will use prepaid stickers to cover the cost of collecting and disposing of ‘black bag’ waste.
The different options available could see either an annual flat charge per household, which would enable a lower bag charge, by recouping some of the fixed costs of the various waste and recycling services provided by the States; or a higher bag charge with a lower annual fee.
A number of options have been suggested by the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure (CfE&I) and States’ Trading Supervisory Board (STSB). You can read the options in full here.
Some problems with introducing the sticker system are already anticipated. In a joint statement issued by E&I and STSB, it is acknowledged that there is potential for some "significant behaviour change":
"The amount that will be recovered through the new pay as you throw charge will depend on the number of bags that are produced and paid for. The joint policy letter identifies there is still uncertainty regarding the assumption for this, due to the potential for significant behaviour change as a result of the new charges and other changes.
"To avoid a significant income shortfall in the first year, the proposals include an uplift on the initial bag charges. This will not affect the cost of the strategy, because any surplus or deficit would be adjusted for in subsequent years."
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