LGA: Universal free garden waste collections ‘unnecessary’ and not solution to reducing landfill

“The proposals risk having an adverse impact on local roads, increasing traffic, and pumping out more carbon emissions and making air pollution worse."


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Introducing universal free garden waste collections is “unnecessary” and will not solve the issue of garden waste ending up in landfill, councils are warning today.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, says it wants to work with government to minimise the amount of garden waste sent to landfill. However, rolling out free garden waste collections is not the answer.

It comes as new analysis by the LGA reveals that introducing universal free garden waste collections could require 600 extra HGV drivers at a time when there is a shortage and cost local taxpayers more than half a billion pounds every year.

New free garden waste collections, which the Government wants to be rolled out in 2023/24 in England, would cost £564 million a year as well as an initial cost of £176 million to implement and roll-out.

The LGA, which represents councils and does not support the proposals, insists it should be for individual councils with their residents to decide how to carry out waste collections locally and whether the costs of providing additional green waste collection should be met by taxpayers or just those that use the additional service.

If the Government pushes ahead with the reforms, the cost must be fully funded by the Government in the Spending Review, and not fall on local taxpayers, many of whom do not have a garden or require a green waste collection service. Without this, councils would be forced to divert funding from under pressure services, such as adult and children’s social care, homelessness support and roads maintenance, to pay for it.

It is also estimated that as many as 600 additional fossil fuel-consuming refuse trucks would need to be brought onto the roads, also requiring potentially as many drivers.

The LGA says this would increase carbon emissions, when many councils have already declared a climate emergency and want to reduce air pollution.

In addition, councils say it is unfair households without a garden, for example residents in many urban properties, would be required to foot the bill for those who do.

Cllr David Renard, LGA environment spokesperson, said:

“We want to work with the Government to reduce green waste being sent to landfill. But introducing blanket free garden waste collections is unnecessary.

“The proposals risk having an adverse impact on local roads, increasing traffic, and pumping out more carbon emissions and making air pollution worse.

“Hundreds of extra HGV drivers would also be needed, at a time when there is a shortage.

“At the very least if the Government is to proceed, it should fully fund it in the Spending Review.”

Notes to editors

Based on a sample size of 11 rounds across eight councils in urban and rural areas in England, serving on average 10,895 properties per single HGV round. Each round runs over a two-week period.

The free garden waste scheme would be rolled out to 6,531,469 homes currently unserved with a garden waste collection.

This amounts to 600 HGV trucks and 600 drivers being required.

The free service will also be rolled out to the 6,106,933 homes that currently pay the council for a collection (on an opt in basis).