The principle of charging for collection of garden waste has been agreed by Wealden Council’s portfolio holder for economic development and waste management, Cllr Roy Galley.
The plan is for the level of the charge to be determined when information about costs of a new waste management contract are known.
In a council report a charge of £50 is favoured, with modelled options assuming 65% of users would continue to subscribe to the service at that rate. At that rate it would cost around £400,000 less than maintaining free garden waste collections.
Another approach would be to drop garden waste collections altogether because it is not a statutory service. At the moment current costs are around £750,000, but that would lead to other issues mentioned below.
Details for a tender specification for a new joint waste contract are being finalised and a report says charging for garden waste could help offset a more costly overall service, so mitigating the need to fund the cost from increases to Council Tax or find savings in other services.
Bins used by householders who didn’t subscribe to a new system would be collected and the cost of that – and the cost of publicity – is estimated at £100,000.
Compost at home
The thinking is that those who don’t use the chargeable service will either compost at home or take their garden waste to a household waste site.
The Wealden report says: “There is no evidence to suggest that people resort to fly-tipping. Whilst we are aware of some current incidences of green waste being fly-tipped, investigations have revealed that this is a result of commercial activities, not domestic garden waste.
“It is possible that some people will choose to burn garden waste on bonfires. We would discourage this practice, but there are existing protocols and guidance on our website providing advice about how to do so without creating a nuisance.
Private garden services
“Where residents make use of private garden services, the provider should dispose of the waste produced as it is classed as commercial waste and should not be placed in a domestic bin.”
The effect of dropping garden waste collection is not favoured because it is a popular service and represents around half the council’s overall recycling.
The report adds: “The process of recycling garden waste also provides a nutrient rich soil conditioner used in a range of different applications.
“If there were no garden waste collection at all, our recycling performance would drop considerably with consequent reduction in the recycling credits received from East Sussex County Council (ESCC).
“There could also be an increase in costs for ESCC if the garden waste were diverted into the residual bin, and there would be costs to Wealden District Council of removing existing brown bins. It is not a recommended option.”
The cost of a new waste contract is expected to increase because of a number of factors according to the report.
One is the value of recycling.
The council says that in 2012 there were financial benefits to Kier in keeping recyclable material and taking full responsibility for its transfer and disposal.
But the market has changed significantly since then and contractors are no longer willing to accept such financial risks.
Currently the joint waste partnership, which includes Wealden, Rother, Eastbourne and Hastings councils, receives a rebate of £2.2m a year on the cost of the contract in light of Kier retaining recyclable material.
Another factor is a recycling credit agreement with East Sussex County Council to reimburse districts and boroughs for recyclable material they retain and do not require the county council to handle.
Wealden currently receives around £1.3m a year through this.
The council’s report says: “The agreement with ESCC may need to be amended for the new contract, and may also be affected by the disposal route chosen.
“The intention is to have separate disposal and collection contracts, and officers are working up proposals on disposal options. Until these issues are resolved the overall impact on Wealden’s finances remains unknown.”
• Uckfield News reported the possibility of a charge for collection of garden waste at the beginning of the month. See our story here: You may have to pay to have garden waste taken away.