Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/30/bin_charging/
Bin charging back on as Brown gets dizzy
Chip'n'bin misery for celebrity muckrakers foretold
Reports this morning have it that government plans for bin charging are back on, after an apparent attack of cold feet by the Prime Minister last week.
Measures which would allow local councils to levy charges on people throwing away amounts of rubbish deemed to be excessive - in order to encourage recycling - appeared to have been shelved, perhaps until after Gordon Brown had fought an election. However, "pay as you throw" provisions have now been inserted into the draft Climate Change bill.
The latest governmental swerve seemed to come immediately ahead of a scathing Parliamentary committee report, in which the influential Public Accounts Committee warned that Blighty faced being slapped with swingeing annual fines of £180m by the Brussels euro-government unless the proportion of rubbish being recycled was upped.
Under a 1999 EU directive, Britain must cut the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill to 6.3 million tonnes in 2020. Some 18.1 megatonnes of paper, teabags, food waste etc was dumped in 2003-04, apparently: as if 30 times the entire world population of blue whales had beached themselves around Blighty's coasts and the rotting carcasses had all been hurled on the tip*.
According to Edward Leigh of the Public Accounts Committee:
If the UK misses these targets, taxpayers will have to stump up the money to pay a huge fine to the European Commission... The alternative [to sorting out recycling] is a never-ending search for more holes in which to bury our rubbish mountain.
Annual fines of £180m would increase the UK net contribution to EU finances by as much as 7 per cent, based on the 2003 figures.
Fevered speculation at once broke out (in the Reg offices if nowhere else) as to the technological/lurid-celebrity-lifestyle consequences of all this.
One popular tactic for rubbish charging, apparently, is the use of sinister chipped-up RFID smart bins, programmed to turn stool pigeon and rat out decent hardworking noncompliant teabag-users to the cheese-scoffing autocrats of Brussels.
And worse - honest celebrity muckrakers toiling for our entertainment by grubbing through Paris Hilton's/minor royals' rubbish would be put out of business by outsourced council data centres in China, able to monitor everything that celebrities put in their bins via satellite (somehow) and automatically sell it to the news media; while still penalising honest hardworking pervert householders who just want to read about what Paris Hilton does with her old bras and sex tapes, etc. ®
*Equivalent to 83.5 adjusted gigajubblies in Reg units. Or something.