Waste management instruments available to Stirling Council to influence the behaviour of the households in this area

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Waste management instruments available to Stirling Council to influence the behaviour of the households in this area


Waste problems have been getting severe and controversial after the industrial revolution (between 1750 and 1850) and following economic growth. A series of incidents, which were caused by hazardous waste emission by industries, were highlighted as a result of rapid economic growth in the late 1960s and 1970s. People’s awareness of waste management issues have been motivated by concern for human health (Williams, 1998). However, economic growth and increasing waste are correlated as history has shown. In the 1990s, the concept of ‘sustainable development’ emerged as tackling many environmental problems. The famous conference: Earth Summit in Rio, 1992 brought a 40-chapter report of action plan for sustainable development, Agenda 21. This report stressed bottom-up participatory and community-based approaches, promotes ‘ think globally, act locally’. In effect, though waste management strategy is relatively similar worldwide, every local government bring different approach in their environmental plan as a ‘Local agenda 21’(O’Riordan, 2000).

As to the waste management strategy in Scotland, the context synchronise the waste strategy both of EU and England and Wales. This strategy is well known as the EU waste management hierarchy. According to this, disposal to landfill is considered as undesirable option that should be avoided. Stirling area belongs to the Forth Valley Area Waste Group (the group is one of eleven waste strategy areas in Scotland). In these areas, 198,000 tones of MSW generates annually in, 95% of which is landfilled and municipal waste is predicted to increase 2 per cent annually (SEPA, 2001). Although existing dumps unlikely to fill up landfill before 2100, Shortage of Landfill Capacity and rising costs of a landfill site are major problem in UK and likely to happen in this area later on. As Wilson (1997) said, ‘Waste reduction requires changes in the behavior of people, both collectively (e.g. as companies) and individually (as householders and employees)’, the role of local government is not only to give incentive for householders to minimized their waste but also change the behavior of producers. The aim of this essay is to discuss various instruments available for the council that can influence the behavior of the households in Stirling.

1. UK Waste Strategy

The aim of the UK waste strategy is to make waste management more sustainable by moving up the hierarchy of options (Figure 1).

First priority is to reduce or avoid waste in the first place; if it must be produced, the quantity should be minimized. The next step is to re-use or recycle, compost as much as is possible. Treatment should be expected both as recovery of energy and as minimization of the quantities requiring final disposal. Only the residues should be considered for landfill (Wilson, 1996). In addition, the support of a set of policy measures will be required as moves down the hierarchy (Figure 2). Three broad categories of policy instruments that might be considered are direct regulation, market-based measures, and education-information (Barron et al, 1996). There is no one policy measure and no right or wrong approach can achieve systematic waste reduction. Effectiveness of each measure is depending on the circumstances of country or region. Therefore, a combination of measures is essential (Wilson, 1996).

2. Minimising waste

Policy measures are often described as two major categories; Stick’ or ‘Carrot’. ‘Stick’ can be divided into ‘legislative stick’ and ‘economic stick’. Legislative stick is the policy instrument, which work through putting a ceiling on the options legally available for waste management .The aim of the Economic stick is to change the behavior of industry and consumer through changes in cost structure at some point in the product lifecycle. “Carrots” are those policy measures to provide some financial incentive. Many types of instruments that aim at minimizing waste can be categorized as ‘Economic stick’.

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2.1 Types of instruments for reducing waste

  • Deposit refund scheme

The scheme was first established by beverage manufactures. This system gives financial incentive for both consumers and producers. However, many traditional deposit refund system such as glass bottles refund system have collapsed with alternative use of plastic as a beverage container. Nevertheless, recently, this scheme has applied to a number of other products such as car bodies (Sweden, Norway), batteries (Denmark, The Netherlands, some U.S) and disposable cameras (Japan). Austria, Germany and the Netherlands have recently introduced new types of deposit refund system in attempt to charges on ...

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