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Garden Waste - proposal for charging for garden waste collections

Garden waste - proposals for introducing charges for garden waste collections from mid 2021

The Council is currently in the process of considering proposals for introducing charges for all garden waste collections from 1 July 2021.

It has become necessary to consider introducing a charged service for green waste in St Albans District in response to budget constraints including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most other Councils in England charge for this service, so it is something we need to consider to help fill our budget gap.

Cabinet considered the matter at its meeting on 19 November 2020 (see the Cabinet paper).  Final decisions on these proposals have yet to be made.  If they are introduced it will not be until mid-2021.

Below is an initial set of FAQs on the proposals.

Garden waste proposals FAQs

How would the new scheme work? Toggle accordion

The subscription period would run from 1 July to 30 June each year. You would be able to sign up or add additional garden waste bins at any time throughout the year. However, collections would always end on 30 June. There would not be discounts for those people who sign up part way through the year and no refunds if you stopped using the service.

How much would it cost me to have my garden waste bin collected? Toggle accordion

It would cost:

  • £45 per bin per year (debit or credit card)
  • £40 per bin per year (direct debit)
  • £35 per bin per year (with Council Tax Reduction, no further reduction for direct debit)

This works out around 87p per week per bin.

When would you start to charge for this service? Toggle accordion

If the scheme is introduced, we will start charging to take away your garden waste from Monday 5 July 2021 . Our last free garden waste collection would be on Friday, 2 July 2021.

What would you get for this service? Toggle accordion

Your subscription would be for one 240 litre green wheeled bin (the same size as a standard recycling bin) or, for conservation areas, two reusable bags. We would collect your garden waste every fortnight, throughout the whole year, as we do with the current garden waste service. 

Why we are doing it

Why is the Council considering making a charge for garden waste collections? Toggle accordion

We are considering charging a fee to allow us to continue to provide the service in the current economic climate.

We want to keep providing the service and think it’s better and fairer to offer a paid for service for those who want it, rather than add it onto the Council Tax. The payment will go towards covering the cost of the service.

Nearly two thirds of councils now charge for collecting garden waste. Only two councils in Hertfordshire including St Albans, currently collect garden waste separately and do not make a charge for this service.

Where would the money from garden waste collections go? Toggle accordion

The garden waste bin subscription charge would go towards covering the cost of delivering this service. The charge would also help to protect other vital services including weekly food waste collections to all homes.

How have the proposed charges been determined? Toggle accordion

Research was carried out into how much other councils charge for garden waste collections. Locally our charges are in line with Watford and Three Rivers councils.

Do other councils make a charge for collecting garden waste bins? Toggle accordion

Of 326 councils in England which pick up rubbish and recycling from homes, around 65% of them (data from 2019) charge for a garden waste collection service.  Locally Watford, Three Rivers, North Herts, Broxbourne and Welwyn Hatfield councils all charge to collect garden waste bins.

Is it legal to charge for a garden waste service? Toggle accordion

Yes, under the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012 we would be able to charge for the separate collection of domestic garden waste.

Subscribing to the service

When would I be able to sign up? Toggle accordion

If it goes ahead, you would be able to sign up for the new garden waste collection service from mid-April (final date to be confirmed) - for a start date at the beginning of July.

How would I sign up to the garden waste service? Toggle accordion

You would sign up and pay via your MyStAlbans District Account.

If I have trouble signing up online, how would I get help? Toggle accordion

You would call our Customer Contact Centre on 01727 866100 for help and advice.

How would I know if I had paid? Toggle accordion

Once you have signed up and paid, you would receive an email confirming your payment. We would then send you a confirmation letter with coloured stickers to put on your bin (or bags), within two weeks.

Your property would be added to the electronic database so that the crews know who has paid and which bins to empty. Only bins (or bags) displaying the sticker would be emptied.

Each subscription year would have a different coloured sticker.

When would I have to pay my garden waste subscription by? Toggle accordion

To receive a full 12 months of the service, you would need to have paid by early June. You can pay after this date, but the period covered by the subscription charge would still end on 30 June the following year (i.e. it will be less than a full 12 months).

What would be the benefits of paying by direct debit? Toggle accordion

There would be a £5 discount for paying by direct debit. By paying by direct debit, your renewal each year would happen on time and automatically. Therefore, you would not see a break in your service at the end of the service year.

How much would I be charged if I sign up after July 1st? Toggle accordion

If you were to sign up at any time after 1 July and before 30 June, you would still be charged the full amount.

If you were to decide to cancel the service during the year, we would be unable to offer a refund.

Would I still be able to get an additional garden waste bin? Toggle accordion

Yes, you would still have the option to pay for an additional garden waste bin(s) on similar terms to the current scheme.
 

I have an additional garden waste bin, would this service change? Toggle accordion

No, this service would continue. However, the current subscription period for additional bins would be extended until 30 June 2021 (at no extra cost) to bring it into line with the new chargeable first bin garden waste service.  If you have already signed up and want to continue, you would be able to renew your additional bin subscription when you sign up to the new service.

Would I be able to leave additional waste next to the garden waste bin to be collected? Toggle accordion

No, only bins that had been paid for would be collected. Other material left by the side of the bin would not. If you felt you needed additional garden waste to be collected, you could sign up for an additional garden waste bin (or bags).

If I paid for the garden waste subscription would I need to pay for additional garden waste to be collected? Toggle accordion

Yes, the garden waste subscription would only provide you with one bin (or two bags).

Your bin lid should also be able to close fully. If you are regularly generating more garden waste than will go in your normal green bin, you may wish to consider signing up for an additional garden waste bin (or bags).

If I’d paid for my first bin and I decide I want a second bin, what would I do? Toggle accordion

You would need to pay another charge for any additional green waste bins. You would be able to do this via your MyStAlbans District Account (as you do now if you want to pay for an additional green waste bin collection). 

However, we cannot give refunds on bins that are no longer wanted (unless it is within the 14 days cooling off period).

Could I share a bin with my neighbour? Toggle accordion

Yes, you could share with your neighbour. However, the bin (or bags) would only be allocated to one address.

If I live in a rented property, could I still subscribe? Toggle accordion

Yes, you or your landlord would be able to subscribe to the service, but please bear in mind that the bin/s are allocated to the property not the occupant/s.

Could I sign up to the service if I live in a flat? Toggle accordion

The Council does not generally collect garden waste from flats as this is classified as commercial waste.

If I decided not to subscribe, can I change my mind later? Toggle accordion

Yes, if you decided to sign up to the service later, you would be able do so by contacting us via your MyStAlbans District Account.

If I paid for the service then changed my mind, could I get a refund? Toggle accordion

No refunds would be provided for cancellations during the year.

Once I had paid, how long would it take for my service to start? Toggle accordion

Stickers can take up to two weeks to arrive. Once you have received your sticker (and bin if ordered) collections would start on your next scheduled collection day. Only bins displaying the correct sticker would be emptied. This could take up to a maximum of four weeks depending on when you had paid in relation to your collection day.

What would happen if I paid online but did not received my sticker? Toggle accordion

Stickers can take up to two weeks to arrive. If after two weeks you still hadn’t received your sticker, we would ask you to call Veolia on 01727 809019.

How the service would operate

When would my garden waste be collected? Toggle accordion

The garden waste bin would still be collected fortnightly on the same day as before. 

What if I receive an assisted collection? Toggle accordion

If you subscribed to the garden waste service and are already on the Council’s assisted collection, this would not change and you would continue to receive your service as usual. Find out more about our assisted collections.

My bin has been damaged, lost or stolen, would I receive a new bin free of charge? Toggle accordion

In the first instance, we would ask that you please check with your neighbours as often bins have been moved accidentally. If they do not turn up after a couple of days we would ask that you please call Veolia on 01727 809019.

A replacement bin would be provided but a delivery charge would apply. Proof of subscription address would be required, such as a recent council tax or utility bill.

What would happen if I moved within the District? Would I be able to take my bin with me? Toggle accordion

You would leave your garden waste bin at the property you are leaving. If there was not a bin at your new property, or the bin did not have a sticker, we would provide one. You would need to call Veolia on 01727 809019 to arrange this.

I have a smaller garden waste bin (140 litre). Would I be able to change it for a larger bin (240 litre)? Toggle accordion

Yes, you would be able to swap it for free. To arrange this you would call Veolia on 01727 809019.

Would I be able to continue to use my smaller garden waste bin (140 litre), and get a discounted price? Toggle accordion

No, all bins would be priced the same. We would give out the larger bins (240 litre) as standard. If you have a smaller bin and wanted it swapped for the larger bin, you would arrange this by contacting Veolia on 01727 809019 (for free until December 2021).

If my bin had been missed, could I have a refund? Toggle accordion

No, this service would be non-refundable. If your bin was missed you could report it online within 24 hours of your scheduled collection and we would return to empty it.

If weather disrupted the collection service (for example, if it snowed) would I receive a refund for the service? Toggle accordion

No refunds would be given for this service. However, we would make every attempt (where safe to do so) to collect your bins.

How long would the service last for? Toggle accordion

This would be an annual subscription running from 1 July to 30 June each year. You would need to sign up by 1 July each year to get your full 12-month subscription.

How would the renewal process work? Toggle accordion

We would email you to remind you that your annual subscription is due to end.  The email would include instructions on how to renew or cancel your subscription. If you chose to renew, you would be provided with a new colour-coded sticker for your bin. This would tell our crews that you have re-subscribed to the service and that they should continue to collect your garden waste. 

If I signed up mid-year, would I renew at the same time the following year? Toggle accordion

No, the sign-up year would always run from 1 July to 30 June. If you signed up part way through the year you would still be required to renew by early June to ensure you have received your new sticker(s) ready for the new collection year.

What could go in my new garden waste bin? Toggle accordion

You would be able to put the same items into your garden waste bin as your existing one. Here is a reminder,

Would I own the bin? Toggle accordion

No, it would remain the property of St Albans City and District Council and should always remain at the address. By subscribing to the garden waste service, you would be, in effect, renting the bin.

Could I stick or paint my door number on my bin? Toggle accordion

You could, but you would also need to ensure that the subscription sticker was clearly displayed on the bin.

Not subscribing to the service

What would happen if I didn't pay? Toggle accordion

Only green bins (or bags) with the relevant year's sticker (which you would get when you pay) would be collected from 5 July 2021.

I can’t afford to pay for this service, would you offer a discount? Toggle accordion

We would offer a discount for those residents on Council Tax Reduction. Those who qualify would pay a reduced price of £35 for a bin each year. Alternatively, if you did not want to pay there are lots of ways you could still recycle your garden waste (see below).

What else could I do with my garden waste if I didn't sign up to the proposed subscription service? Toggle accordion

We want you to keep on recycling and reduce the waste that goes to landfill. If you decided that you didn't want to sign up for the regular collection, there are lots of ways you could still recycle your garden waste.

  • Compost it in a home composting bin and turn it into a valuable and nutrient rich food for your garden. Subsidised home composters are available through Waste Aware Hertfordshire
  • Take it to your local recycling centre. But remember to save it up so you don’t make unnecessary car journeys. Or share a trip with a neighbour.
  • Share a bin with your neighbour/s. It would have to be registered at one address though.

If I decided I don’t want to pay for this charge, what would I do with my green bin(s)? Toggle accordion

You would keep hold of your unwanted bin(s) for storage use in your garden. They need to remain with the property. If you were to move, they would need to be available for the new householder.