War on Waste is the name of a campaign lauched by the UK's Local Government Association (LGA) early in 2007.
According to the LGA, households in the UK send more than 26.8million tonnes of rubbish to landfill every year - the equivalent of almost half a tonne for every person in the country. The figures also show that Britain sends 7million tonnes more rubbish into landfill than any other country in Europe. Germany which has a population 25% larger than the UK disposes of less than half the amount of rubbish into the ground.
If current trends continues it is estimated the country will run out of landfill space in less than nine years time.
Local government leaders will warn that unless bold reforms are made - by householders, shops, businesses and manufacturers - recycling rates will not rise fast enough to meet the EU Landfill Directive and help tackle climate change and will hit the pockets of taxpayers.
Councils, and consequently the taxpayer, are facing fines of up to £150 per tonne of rubbish that is sent to be dumped into landfill sites. According to the National Audit Office, fines of up to £200million could hit taxpayers for the failure to cut the amount that is thrown in landfills.
Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of the LGA Environment Board: "Britain is the dustbin of Europe with more rubbish being thrown into landfill than any other country on the continent. For decades people have been used to being able to throw their rubbish away without worrying about the consequences. Those days are now over.
"The Local Government Association is launching the War on Waste campaign because there needs to be an urgent and radical overhaul of the way in which rubbish is thrown away. Local people, businesses and councils all have a vital role to play to protect our countryside before it becomes buried in a mountain of rubbish.
"A town the size of Warwick is already being used to dump Britain’s rubbish and unless the ways of people and business change then it is estimated we will run out of landfill space in less than nine years time. Reducing waste will also help cut carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
"Central government should give councils ’save-as-you-throw’ powers to help encourage people to take more responsibility for the way they throw their rubbish away. If save-as-you-throw were introduced it would mean a reduction in council tax and a separate charge for waste collection. It would also require a change in the law.
"Councils want a power, not a duty, so authorities can decide what’s best for their local areas. It’s not about paying more it’s about paying in a different way. It’s also fairer because if you throw out less you pay less."
Cllr Paul Bettison claims "Councils are on the frontline in the fight against climate change and are working hard to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. But ultimately we must make sure less waste is produced in the first place.
"Manufacturers must be made to pay towards the cost of getting rid of single use items like nappies, batteries and throw-away cameras. The only way to dispose of these products is to send them to landfill. They can’t be recycled.
"It is time manufacturers were made to take full responsibility for the life cycle of their products. It is totally unacceptable that the council tax payer is picking up the bill for business. The government should ensure that it is the polluter, and not people, that pay."