Diary of a Sutton Councillor

New waste management policies

A can of worms?



I am very aware from talking to residents that the introduction of a charge for the green waste collection is unpopular. This is understandable when a charge is introduced for a service that was previously offered free of charge. Sutton was unusual in this as most other boroughs have always charged for this service. However I have found that when I explain the rationale behind the introduction of the charges the majority of residents accept that the new system is fairer.


Not everyone in the borough has a garden, many live in flats, but everyone paid for the free green waste collection service through their council tax. This is obviously unfair. The reorganisation of waste management services, including the introduction of a charge for the green waste collection, has meant that the council can afford to offer the glass collection service to everyone in the borough. Everyone produces glass waste either in the form of jars or bottles, so every resident benefits from this service.


The other aspect of the new policy is to encourage more people to compost at home by offering free composters. It makes sense for us to reduce the amount of compostable waste that is being ferried around the borough in our lorries.


It is also worth pointing out that residents have the choice about whether to pay the £35 charge. They can decide to compost their garden waste at home or they can choose to take it themselves to the nearest recycling centre. Certainly it will be a lighter load than the glass that currently needs to be transported to a collection site. I have suggested that we increase the number of sites where residents can take their compostable waste so that every neighbourhood has one.


The £35 charge is for 26 collections of one bag a year but it is still heavily subsidised. It does not cover the actual cost of collection and transportation. For the majority of people who have a large garden (usually accompanying a large house) this should not prove too great a burden, even if they require more than one bag. The Council is looking into offering subsidies for people for whom it would be a genuine hardship and who are unable to transport the waste themselves – perhaps elderly residents or those who have inherited their property.


I have been composting myself for two years now. It is only this year since having my garden ‘made over’ that I have had an opportunity to use the compost I have produced. My composter was nearly full, but every time I went to add more vegetable peelings there was always room for more. I had done the wrong thing by adding large woody clippings from my shrubs but when I came to see what I had I found that I had lots of lovely compost to improve the soil for all my new plants. It was very satisfying, and it has saved me money.


The charging for green waste collection is only a small part of the overhaul of the waste management services, for which the aim has changed from ‘maximising recycling’ to ‘minimising waste production’. It is due in large part to these changes that we were able to reduce the impact of our poor financial settlement from central government on our residents’ council tax charge.


May 14, 2008 - Posted by | Information

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