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Durham County Council

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Garden waste collections FAQs


Find more information about our garden waste collection service and answers to questions you may have.

The service charge

Why is there a charge for garden waste collections?

With Government spending cuts, we must save £260 million overall between 2011 and 2020. It is no longer possible to fund the garden waste collection service and in 2015 we introduced a subscription fee for the service to continue.

Why has the price for the service increased in 2017?

Due to continuing financial pressure as a result of Government austerity we need to increase the price to ensure that the service can continue.

In the past, this service was provided and paid for as part of my council tax. Will my council tax be reduced as a consequence of charging for this service?

No, this does not mean that there will be a reduction in council tax as the income raised from council tax will be used to fund statutory and frontline services as a whole.

Subscriptions

Why should I subscribe to the service before 14 February 2017?

You must subscribe to the garden waste collection service before 14 February to receive all 17 collections in 2017. This is so we can arrange delivery of your garden waste sticker and any bins you have requested before the service starts in March/ April 2017.

Can I still subscribe to the service after 14 February 2017?

Yes, you can subscribe to the service at any time during the year and you will receive the remaining collections until the service ends in autumn. The price is £25 for the year (March/ April to November) regardless of when you join the service.

I haven't received/I've lost my garden waste letter. Can I still subscribe to the service?

We are contacting all eligible properties between December 2016 and January 2017. You can still check if your property is eligible for collections and use our online subscription form without having your letter.

If you need a replacement letter, for example, because you want to subscribe by paying at a Post Office or PayPoint outlet, then please contact us.

Please note, your garden waste reference number is unique to your property for the garden waste collection service 2017, so it is important you only use the letter addressed to your own property. If you try to subscribe using a different letter or last year's letter or reference number, your property will not be registered for garden waste collections.

Can I use my neighbour's letter or last year's letter to subscribe?

No, your letter has a garden waste reference number that is unique to your property for the garden waste collection service 2017. Please subscribe using your own letter or garden waste reference number for the 2017 service. If you subscribe using a different letter or last year's letter or reference number, your property will not be registered for garden waste collections. 

How long after subscribing to the garden waste service will my collections start?

Once we have received your payment we will send you a garden waste sticker and a garden waste bin within 10 working days. Once you have received these your collections will start on your next collection day. 

I've received a letter giving details of the garden waste collection service in 2017. What do I do if I don't want to renew my subscription or sign up for the service in 2017?

Subscribing to the garden waste service is optional so if you don't want to receive garden waste collections in 2017 you don't need to do anything. We will only empty your garden waste bin in 2017 if you have subscribed to the service. 

I subscribed to the service in 2015 for three years. How do I get my bin sticker and collection calendar for garden waste collection in 2017?

If you subscribed in 2015 for three years, we will automatically send you a new sticker and collection calendar for 2017 in January in time for the start of the collections in March/ April. 

How do you know I've paid my subscription?

We keep a record of your payment for the time period of your subscription. This information is also logged on the electronic system in the garden waste collection vehicle. The bin sticker on your garden waste bin will also show the collection crews you have paid for the service.

If I join after 14 February or towards the end of the collection period can I pay a lower rate?

No, the price is a fixed charge for the year (March/ April to November) regardless of when you join the service. You will however, only receive any remaining collections before the scheme ends for the year in November 2017.

Are there any discounts for paying for more than one bin?

There are no discounts for additional bins.

Are there any concessions for senior citizens or people in receipt of benefits?

There are no concession rates for the garden waste collection service.

I don't have a garden waste bin but I would like to receive collections. Do I have to pay for the bin as well as the subscription fee?

If your property has not previously received a garden waste collection service and it is now eligible for garden waste collections, you will be issued with your first bin free of charge when you subscribe. You will need to pay the subscription fee of £25.

If your property has previously received a garden waste collection service, you will need to pay £20 for a bin. You will also need to pay the subscription fee of £25 for the emptying of the bin. 

I don't have a lot of garden waste. Can I share a garden waste bin with one of my neighbours?

Yes, you can share your garden waste bin, however we accept no responsibility for personal agreements made between neighbours. We will need the address of one of the properties to log on our system when payment is made. That same address will need to be written on the sticker to be attached to the bin and the bin must be placed outside the property which has subscribed to the service.

Why do I need a sticker/my address on the garden waste bin?

The sticker and address identifies that your property is subscribed to the garden waste collection service. We will not be able to empty your bin without the sticker on the bin. Your address will also make it easier for bin crew to return your bin to the right property.

What type of pen should I use to write my address on the sticker?

You can use a biro or a permanent marker.

Why do I need to put the sticker on the back of the bin underneath the handle?

As you must put your bin at the kerbside with the handles facing forward, the bin crew will be able to see the sticker quickly and easily.

Will I get a replacement bin sticker if it gets lost or damaged?

We will replace stickers free of charge for any property which has already subscribed to the garden waste collection service. Contact us at Highways and Streetscene if you need a replacement sticker.

Can I cancel my subscription and get a refund?

If you change your mind, you have 14 working days, from the day following payment, to cancel your subscription. There are no refunds after this period. You must cancel the service in writing and contact us at Business Support. Please include the reference 'garden waste cancellation' and include your eight digit garden waste reference number and contact details. 

Garden waste bin

Why isn't my garden waste collected all year?

We don't provide a garden waste collection service in the winter months as there is less garden waste produced. However, there are other ways to dispose of garden waste when the service is suspended. 

What do I do if my garden waste bin is stolen?

Contact us at Highways and Streetscene and we will arrange a replacement. There is a charge of £20 for replacement garden waste bins. This contributes towards the cost of the purchase of the replacement bin, the administration and the delivery of the bin. A wheeled bin which is lost/ stolen for a second time within a rolling calendar year will be provided free of charge.

What can I put in my garden waste bin?

See the information on our what goes in which bin page to find out what you can and cannot put in your garden waste bin.

Why can't I put food waste, pet waste, soil, pots or growbags into my garden waste bin?

Kitchen waste must not be put into your garden waste bin. This is a legal restriction, introduced after the BSE (mad cow disease) crisis, to prevent the spreading of bacteria. The garden waste collected is composted in the open air on a number of 'on farm' composting sites. Contamination from kitchen and animal waste can cause widespread distribution of bacteria, leading to outbreaks of diseases such as BSE or foot and mouth disease.

Animal waste must not be put into your garden waste bin, for the reasons explained above. Instead, please double-bag dog and cat waste and put it in your rubbish bin. Bedding and waste from vegetarian pets can be composted at home.

Soil attached to roots is not a problem, but large amounts of soil make the bin extremely heavy and difficult to empty. You can take any surplus soil to one of the household waste recycling centres (tips).

Plastic and pottery cannot be composted. Please reuse where possible or dispose of these in your rubbish bin or at a household waste recycling centre

What happens to my garden waste once it has been collected?

Garden waste is delivered to one of a number of composting sites in or around County Durham. The large scale sites enable faster composting which reaches high temperatures. The garden waste is first shredded then stacked in long piles, known as windrows, which are regularly turned to produce compost. The process is monitored and closely managed to quality standards. Compost is then spread to land.

We pay for every tonne of garden waste sent to farm composting facilities rather than for disposal (via energy from waste). This is known as a 'gatefee'.

Collection of garden waste

Where do I put my bin for collection?

Place your bin at the kerbside of the boundary of your property by 7.00am on your day of collection. Please ensure the sticker is facing towards the road so the collection crews can see it. 

If your property has been identified as having special circumstances for collection, you should place the garden waste bin at the agreed collection point by 7.00am on the specified collection day. We will inform you if special circumstances apply to your property. 

Will you collect additional garden waste if I can't fit it in the bin?

No, we won't be able to collect any additional waste which is placed next to or on top of your garden waste bin.

I currently receive help to put my bin out. Will I continue to receive this for garden waste collections?

If you subscribe for garden waste collections and you have already registered for help to put your bin out, our staff will move your garden waste bin for you.

Why isn't my garden waste collected all year?

We don't provide a garden waste collection service in the winter months as there is less garden waste produced. However, there are other ways to dispose of garden waste during the winter when the service is suspended.

What happens if my garden waste bin isn't emptied on the scheduled collection day?

Please check that you've put your bin out at the correct time (by 7.00am) and you've followed the correct procedures. Find out more, including how to report it, on our missed bin collections page.

Moving house

What happens if I subscribe for garden waste collections and then move house?

If you move house, you must leave the garden waste bin at the property. The garden waste collection service is not transferable. The payment made is for the collection service at the property and is not refundable.

How do I find out if the house I have moved into has subscribed to the garden waste collection service?

You can check by entering the postcode of the property into the address checker in our online subscription form.

I have moved into a property which is already subscribed to the garden waste collection service but the bin is lost/stolen. Can I get a replacement garden waste bin?

Yes, contact us at Highways and Streetscene to arrange a replacement bin. There will be a £20 charge for the bin and you will be eligible for the remaining collections for the current year (March/ April to November). 

Disposing of garden waste

Can I put garden waste in my rubbish bin?

We recommend that you don't place your garden waste in your rubbish bin because your bin will soon fill up and you won't have room for the rest of your household waste. Overloaded and heavy rubbish/recycling bins will not be emptied. It is better for the environment to compost your garden waste, either at home or by taking it to one of the household waste recycling centres.

Can I burn my garden waste?

It is not illegal to have a bonfire but you must not cause a nuisance or endanger your neighbour's property.

It is an offence under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to cause a statutory nuisance, and this includes nuisances created by bonfires. A smoky bonfire may well cause a nuisance if it prevents people from enjoying their gardens, opening windows or hanging out washing. The smoke and fumes created can affect air quality and can be damaging to health in the longer term.

We can issue an 'abatement notice' under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if your bonfire is causing a nuisance. You can be fined up to £5,000 if you don't stick to the notice.

Will there be more flytipping?

It is a common concern that flytipping may increase following the introduction of a charge for garden waste collections. Other councils in England where a charge has been introduced, have not seen an increase in the number of flytipping incidents. We will be monitoring the number of flytipping incidents to ensure any issues are addressed quickly. Flytipping is a criminal offence with a maximum fine of £50,000 under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Still got a question?

If you've got a query not answered here, then please contact us at Highways and Streetscene.

Garden Waste 2017