Councils rake in millions from garden waste collections, research shows

A composting station near Stirling (PA) Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Councils rake in almost £74 million a year from charging to collect garden waste, new figures reveal.

Increasing numbers of local authorities are making money from the service, which used to be included in council tax, according to BBC consumer series Rip Off Britain: Live.

Data obtained by the programme using freedom of information laws shows more than half (53%) of UK councils now levy a charge for collecting green waste, with revenues of £73.9 million pounds in 2016/17.

The figure is up from £42.3 million in 2014/15 and £56.9 million 2015/16, according to the research.

Some 172 councils of the 322 that responded to requests for information charge to collect garden waste, with an average cost to residents of £42.40 a year.

The highest charges are £96 a year in Harlow, Essex, and £86 in Arun, West Sussex, while the lowest charges are £18 a year in Monmouthshire and £22 in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire.

Presenter Gloria Hunniford said: “While clearly some of our viewers are unhappy their garden waste is no longer taken away for free, the results of our survey show it’s unlikely that’s going to change any time soon.

“And with further councils set to introduce such charges, even more of us will need to get used to paying to have our grass clippings taken away”.

The show, on at 9.15am on Monday, features residents of a street in Trafford in Manchester, which falls under two different councils – one which charges to collect garden waste, and the other which does not.

Ian Billington, said: “When we first got a letter saying they were introducing it, I was shocked – because it was something that you have always had included in your council tax.”

A Government spokesman said: “Councils will have £90.7 billion to spend on services over the next two years, and they should use that to meet the needs of their residents.

“Where councils charge people to get rid of garden waste, they must ensure the charges are reasonable, clear, and take into account the views of people in their area.”

A Local Government Association spokesman said: “Councils in England face an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020.

“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.”