Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Garden Waste collections - households face quadruple bills this year

I blogged yesterday about the changes to the rubbish and recycling collection service that will be made at the beginning of next month. I did gloss over the impact of the changes to the garden waste service, but these deserve more study.

Until now, local residents have been able to have grass cuttings and other garden waste collected in brown paper bags on a fortnightly basis. In turn, these bags have cost 75p each (up from 25p each last year).

Under the new scheme, residents will need to buy a wheelie bin costing either £15 or £18 depending on the size. Residents with limited space can buy a re-usable sack costing £3.

In addition, residents will need to take out a subscription for the fortnightly service costing £7.50, £8 or £12 for a six month subscription or £15, £16 or £23.50 for a full annual permit. The different prices depend on whether the sack, small wheelie bin or large wheelie bin is being used.

There will also be a £3.50 subscription for a very limited number of collections of the sack only.

My concern about this scheme is this. For someone who produces a regular amount of garden waste, it make sense and the costs will be not much different from the current regime. But most of the residents I have talked to who use the system don't produce the same amount of garden waste each time. They might produce a couple of the brown bags at the start of the season, one or two every so often during the summer and then two or three at the end of the growing season. The ad hoc nature of the old system suited them perfectly but the new system seems to be based on a regular amount of waste.

I am also told that the small sacks (and the lowest number of collections) will be limited to very small households only. Everyone else will have to have one of the wheelie bins. And so a household that last year spent £6 on eight brown bags will find themselves having to pay a minimum of £23 this year - almost four times the amount.

The alternative, we are told, is for households to compost their garden waste or to take it themselves to the Household Waste Recycling Centre. In both cases, this is a good option for some residents but impossible for others.

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