Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Biffa Waste Services Ltd to the Rt Hon Paul Boateng, MP, Financial Secretary, HM Treasury 24 July 2001

  I recently copied you in on a letter to Michael Meacher regarding the looming crisis in meeting the cost of managing end life fridges utilising zero emissions technologies after 1 January 2002. It is almost certain that the supply chain will refuse any cost liability for this given past similar responses in relation to accepting cost burdens arising from so called "orphan" products, etc.

  In thinking about this matter in more depth it occurred to me that a simple option exists whereby unnecessary bureaucratic and audit procedures could be avoided. If the majority of domestic fridges end up as a liability on Waste Collection Authorities after 1 January—either fly tipped or delivered to civic amenity sites—this will result in local government asking for special precept consideration for an expected £60 millin to £70 million per annum management cost split between over 400 separate bodies (with additional complications caused by Welsh and Scottish devolution). Treasury can either grant such a precept or the Government may be embarrassed if local government has to cut back its budgetary expenditure parri passu in more sensitive areas such as education, etc. An alternative approach might be for companies like us to offer a free service to local authorities the length and breadth of the UK and for us to negotiate a central rate with yourselves or DEFRA which embraces the collection, destruction and end life management of scrap materials on an inclusive basis. The latter is much easier to manage and we would be more than happy to comply with the necessary centralised audit requirements.

  This is not an offer to solve the Government's compliance problems free of charge—the sting in the tail is that we would ask for a pound for pound reduction against the total cost of fridge management (based on the negotiated national rate) as an offset against the (approximately) £75 million we raise in annual landfill taxes. Is this a suggestion on which we could develop some dialogue?

  I have copied this to Michael Meacher and the Local Government Association for information.

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