The article by Sergio Sastre and Ignasi Puig (ENT) entitled “An exploration into municipal waste charges for environmental management at local level: the case of Spain” is now available in the Waste Management & Research journal.
Municipal waste charges (MWCh) have been widely acknowledged as a crucial tool for waste management at the local level. This is because they contribute to financing the costly provision of waste collection and treatment services and they can be designed to provide an economic stimulus to encourage citizens and local businesses to improve separate collection and recycling. This work presents a methodology to evaluate a sample of 125 MWCh in Spain for the year 2015, covering 33.91% of the Spanish population. The qualitative benchmarking of MWCh shows that flat fees are frequent whereas variable fees are set according to criteria that are weakly related to waste generation. The average fee per household is €82.2/year, which does not provide full cost recovery. The current configuration of MWCh penalises taxpayers contributing to source separation of waste while subsidising less environmentally friendly behaviours. In this sense, MWCh in Spain are far from applying the polluter pays principle. Furthermore, it is argued that MWCh are ineffective for promoting the proper application of the so-called ‘waste hierarchy’.