Your garden waste collections could soon become free, but must be fully funded warns council

Waste bins. Picture: Radar

Waste bins. Picture: Radar - Credit: Archant

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is among the two-thirds of councils which charge for garden waste collections, new analysis shows.

With the Government moving to bring back free garden waste collections, town halls across England have warned that the plan must be ‘fully funded’.

EDDC charges an annual subscription of £48 to pick up garden waste bins or bags. A council spokesman said: “If the free provision of green waste collections were to be adopted, the money raised by the current chargeable services would need to be fully funded in order to prevent budget shortfalls within the collection authorities.

“The majority of local authorities charge for the provision of green waste collection services and the money raised covers the cost of providing the service. If a surplus is generated, this is used to help the funding of other recycling and waste collection services provided by the local authorities, which reduces the burden on council tax.”

The Government’s new waste strategy has promised to consult on whether the millions of English households with gardens should have access to free collections of their grass cuttings, twigs, plant and hedge clippings.

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Composting garden waste could cut carbon emissions, avoid landfill costs and generate extra revenue from producing compost, the strategy says.

Research by the Press Association shows that 212 councils, of the 326 that pick up rubbish and recycling, charge for a garden waste collection service. The average cost is around £46, the research shows.

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Prices range from £22 a year in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, to £96 a year in Harlow, Essex.

The highest subscription rate in the South West is in Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset, where residents pay £56.90 per year.

A comparison of the latest figures with previous Press Association research suggests 17 councils have introduced charges in the last 18 months or are doing so this year. Many others have seen prices increase.

The Local Government Association said any changes to waste services that put more of a cost burden on councils already under huge financial pressure need to be fully funded.

Martin Tett, the LGA’s environment spokesman, said: “Some councils were able to provide free garden waste services when they were first introduced but are now having to charge to reflect the growing cost of providing a collection service.

“Money from garden waste collection charges goes back into maintaining the service.

“Any changes to waste services and additional cost burdens on councils, who are already under enormous financial pressure, need to be fully funded.”

He also said councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 between 2010 and 2020, and it was ‘vital’ the forthcoming Government spending review fully funded the local services communities relied on.

An Environment Department spokesman said: “Free garden waste collections would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions through less garden waste being sent to landfill, but would also see more waste composted, which is cheaper for local authorities than landfill disposal.

“Subject to consultation, we intend to have free garden waste collections in place from 2023, with councils being funded appropriately to deliver this.”

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