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Do you pay to have green waste collected?

Garden green waste

My green waste bag is collected for free each and every week. I thought that was the norm, but it appears it’s a different story for many in the UK. Some people are now paying extra to have their green waste taken away.

According our latest research, around a quarter of people have to pay an extra charge on top of their council tax to get their green waste taken away.

Our figures are broadly in line with the latest figures from Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Programme) from 2011/12, where 31% of households in England and 27% in Wales paid to have garden waste collected, compared with no charges in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The services offered by councils differ around the country: some put out bags, others bins; some pay an annual fee ranging from £15 to £90, others pay per collection. Some councils sell the composted green waste back to residents for use as a mulch or soil improver.

While most people appear to be happy with their collection service, some say that it’s not regular enough or that it doesn’t collect all of their waste. Of those who have to pay, some are not happy with the extra charge – several people told us that they think it should be included in their council tax bill.

Only about half of Which? members who have to pay for the service choose to do so. The rest of them compost the green waste at home or take it to a local recycling centre. A handful even admit that they put green waste in their ordinary rubbish bin!

Paying extra to get rid of gardening waste

Our members’ views are echoed by my colleagues in the Which? Gardening office. Our editor, Ceri Thomas, and our senior researcher, Adelaide Gray, both live in the same borough in Buckinghamshire and are charged £28 a year to have their green waste taken away.

Ceri has chosen not pay the charge, preferring to compost at home. She then takes the excess to her local recycling centre. On the other hand, Adelaide has opted to pay for the service. Despite having two compost heaps, she generates more green waste than she can handle and would rather it was taken away. She’s also reluctant to put grass clippings that have been treated with a weed and feed into her compost bins. And rightly so, they contain weedkillers and should not be put in the compost bin for at least six months.

Clearly many councils are having to make tough decisions about which services they can run. And arguably it’s greener to compost at home than to send a fleet of vehicles to collect green waste. But not everyone has space for a bin or heap, and often the garden generates too much green waste anyway. So is charging to take it away really the answer?


We live in rural West Somerset and compost as much as possible but take the excess, especially grass & hedge cuttings to the local recycling centre. There is a charge for the fortnightly ‘green’ collection service which we choose not to pay for as our Council tax is so expensive.

Jonathan Eley says:
13 June 2013

Southend BC charges extra – about £40 a year I think, plus you have to buy a wheelie bin from them. But council tax is on the low side I think.

Jude says:
13 June 2013

We live in west Wales and have to pay £25 for a fortnightly collection between April and October

Mandy says:
13 June 2013

I live in South Norfolk and we can have the option of having a brown bin for garden waste which is charged at £40.00 per year. I share a bin with my neighbour which saves money but I think the cost is still high.

Kathryn says:
13 June 2013

We bought a green bin from the council – only to have a charge for collecting it introduced about 18 months later! What a scam…. We compost, and take our excess to the reycling sit ourselves – I refused to pay for the collection on principle – our council tax is pretty steep here in Berkshire

My black bin is every week. My Green Recycling bin is once a month (every 4 weeks) & we do not have a brown bin for garden waste in my area.

I did kick off about having the Green Recycling bin collected only every 4 weeks. To fix this they sent another bin for me. So i have 2 Green Recycling bins now.

I think this is a good idea, to just give extra bins, than sending lorry’s out every 2 weeks as it would cost more money that way!

Victoria says:
13 June 2013

In Sheffield it’s £60.00 for a fortnightly service between May and November. There are only 5 waste sites (only open a few days each) for 237,000 households (over half a million residents).

In the past I’ve composted, but as a renter it’s not always a viable option. I don’t have a car so I’m afraid my garden waste goes in the general waste, which is incinerated.

Phil Knapp says:
13 June 2013

Horsham Council (West Sussex) have introduced an annual charge of £29 for a fornightly collection.

I’ve been paying to have garden waste collected every fortnight by the council for years now. The current cost is £20 a year for one wheelie bin ( they’ve just switched from using sacks, which would blow away ). Next year it will go up to £30.

Rob says:
13 June 2013

Mole Valley in Surrey have just put it up to £49.50 per bin a year for a fortnightly collection.
We have 3 of em + make our own compost.
Ridiculous price and not fair.
Recycling is much better for the environment than all the bonfires other people seem to keep having at all hours.

My council [Breckland in Norfolk] charges around £40 a year for a Brown Bin to be emptied every fortnight [except at Christmas/New Year]. The service works well and one bin is enough for all our grass cuttings and other garden arisings. Perversely, the green waste goes in the Brown bin, the recycling in the Black bin, and the residual waste in the Green bin. I thought, if we put our refuse in the Black bin and present it on the Green bin day, the bin would be emptied, but the crew disregard any bin that is the “wrong” colour even if it has the “right” contents. Eric Morecambe would have loved it!

The different colour schemes drive me mad, John. I have to be careful about what to put in which bin when staying with family and friends. Even recycling is complicated because councils differ in what is acceptable in the recycling bin (blue where I live).

It would be nice if we could standardise on colours of bins and what goes in them without the need for a European summit.

Andy R says:
13 June 2013

Ha Ha Ha !!!!!

I don’t even get the choice of a wheelie bin !!!!

My council Sevenoaks that takes a nice 2.2k out my pocket each yr ONLY supply black & clear bags …..even if I put a couple of “bit’s” in the bag it would split !!!!!

So did a but 2 start the garden off (In the sun) & took it to the recycling centre to be turned away as my vehicle is commercial ……..DER!!! I sold the van & car as YOU charge me SO much money!!!!!!

I got a 5 seat truck to do both job’s …………… BUT have 2 get a licence 2 drop off what I pay for ?????? OR add to global warming & PI#S the neighbours off with fires ?????????

2.2k Just for rubbish collection?

Andy R says:
13 June 2013

Council Robbery !!!!! No the Council tax …….. But they only collect the rubbish ………. not a road sweeper in Oh!!!!! 12 years !!!!!! What else DO they do ?????? NOT even a cop when everyones sheds/garages got robbed !!!!!! :(((

Wirral Council has just started charging £35 (£30 online) for a fortnightly collection of garden waste. I’d rather not have to pay but the council is strapped for cash so it’s going to look at every option to raise revenue. I don’t mind this one too much but where will it end?
Something else that I’m worried about is the amount of fly tipping this decision is going to create. Some people who can’t be bothered with the enormous queues at the local tip are just going to drive down a country lane and off-load all their waste. Baaah!

Lymielady says:
14 June 2013

We compost some but take the rest to recycling centre all the times are able the. We will have to pay for green bin collection. We live in West Sussex (ADC)where our rates are nearly half my pension but we have no street lights, have to repair our own road but l no concessions for that. Then between the local council and national inspectorate they have allow access through our road to a new estate now comprising 23 large houses! DEMOCRACY is a joke in this country now!

I think Harrow council have it about right. Bin collections are free and excess can be taken to recycling sites. Garden waste and food waste (brown bin) is collected weekly, recyclable mixed waste (blue bin) and general waste (green bin) are collected alternately.

Emma Cooper says:
14 June 2013

The Vale of the White Horse (in Oxfordshire) charges £37 a year for a separate wheelie bin for fortnightly garden waste collections. You can, of course, take it to the recycling centre yourself for free. I know that at least some of the resulting compost is sold by the company that makes it. It’s a useful service. Since so many homes these days are being build with postage-stamp sized gardens, it seems unfair to include a charge for green waste collection in the council tax; on the other hand, perhaps we should stop building houses with so little outside space.

Scion says:
14 June 2013

Although I never need to have green waste collected, I would be happy to pay a bit extra in council tax to make it a “free” service for everyone. Economies of scale would make it fairly cost effective, and there would be loads fewer trips in private cars to the local tip.

Bob Mullineaux says:
14 June 2013

This year against Government guidelines Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) have chosen not only to increase taxes but added a household stealth tax in the form of charges in the use of some green wheelie bins. This stealth tax opens the door to annual increases in green bin charges and the inclusion of blue and black wheelie bins and a whole host of additional charges outside the annual HDC tax bill. .

To improve and make savings in an organisation requires much determined work.

To increase taxes requires little effort and helps maintain excessive salaries, non productive posts and unnecessary departments.

John Collins says:
14 June 2013

We are served by Chichester ( West Sussex) district council who charge us £45 for a fortnightly collection except at Christmas. We help out neighbors when they need extra bin space and ours has some.

However, the compost made out of the waste we SOLD to the council is SOLD back to us! At least some should be free!

David Oram says:
14 June 2013

Here in the Royal Borough of Kingston we have about the highest Council Tax in London and then have to pay extra for garden waste to be collected. It is then composted and sold back to us. I do make use of the garden waste collection but do not buy back the compost. Most recycling is collected weekly but the garden waste is fortnightly along with the landfill collection. With such a high council tax to start with why do they have to charge extra for the garden waste?