Garden Waste Service

From 1 April 2021 we will be introducing a chargeable garden waste collection service. You will be able to subscribe to this service from mid February. If you'd like to know more about the service and the decision please read our FAQs below.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Garden Waste Collection Service?

It is an opt in, chargeable service to have garden waste (including: grass and hedge cuttings, leaves, flowers, prunings, twigs, small branches and fallen fruit) collected fortnightly from your existing 240L brown bin.

When will I be able to sign up for the service?

The paid for service will start from 1 April 2021. You will be able to subscribe to this service from mid February.

Why are you now charging for garden waste collections?

Like many Councils we have a reduced budget from central Government. We can therefore no longer afford to subsidise the cost of collecting this additional waste. The decision to charge for garden waste collections is one of many difficult decisions the Council has faced to help reduce the costs of providing services. Unlike household waste and recycling there's no legal requirement to collect garden waste and councils can charge for collections. The income from charging for garden waste collections will make the service self-financing. Well over half of all Councils in England charge for this service and have done for many years. Not all properties in East Herts require a garden waste collection service as they do not have a garden. Introducing a charge is fair as the service will only be paid for by those households that choose to use it. This is similar to bulky waste collections where only households requesting the service have to pay.

Is it legal to charge for the collection of garden waste?

Yes. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, councils can charge for the collection of garden waste. Charging for the collection of garden waste will bring us in line with some of our neighbouring councils who have a charged service, such as North Hertfordshire District Council, Welwyn Hatfield, Watford, Broxbourne and Three Rivers.

Why can’t the charge be added to Council Tax?

There is no legal requirement to collect garden waste this means that it is not required to be covered by your council tax payment and therefore many Councils charge for this service in order to continue to be able to offer collections of garden waste. The alternative was that East Herts removed collection of garden waste as a service completely. Councillors agreed that it was important to continue to offer a garden waste collection service for residents who wish to use it. Council tax itself is a mandatory payment which covers a variety of services such as fire, police, adult social care and children’s services including education. You may not use all these services but you still have to pay your council tax. This change brings the garden waste collection in-line with other not legally required, pay for services, such as bulky waste collections, which is a service only paid for by people who use it.

Can I have more than one brown bin?

Yes. You can sign up to receive a collection for up to a total of three brown bins. You can sign up and pay for an additional bin(s) to be delivered.

Can I sign up part way through the year?

You can sign up at any point before the end of January 2022 however the cost will be £49.

Can I pay via Direct Debit?

Your garden waste collections can be paid via a Direct Debit, this is cheaper if you sign up by 15th March 2021 and this means your payments will renew each year without you having to re-subscribe. When signing up for Direct Debit you will be given additional information about the Direct Debit Guarantee and how this will work and what to do should you wish to cancel you Direct Debit in the future.

How much does the service cost?

The pricing structure is detailed below.

Standard collection charge per bin (up to three bins) £49

Charge for additional bins if you require an additional bin to be delivered £84 (£49 standard collection charge + £35 bin and delivery)

Are concessions available?

No. The charge of £49 per year applies to all households who chose to purchase the service. The Council does not offer concessions for other chargeable waste collection services (such as bulky waste collections). Alternative options are available for residents to dispose of their garden waste, such as home composting, visiting your local Recycling Centre or sharing a bin with a neighbour.

When will my garden waste be collected?

The garden waste service will run throughout the year. If you sign up to the garden waste service, your brown bin(s) will be collected on the same day as your other recycling bins.

How will collection staff know if I have signed up to the new service?

Collection vehicles will have an electronic record of which addresses have signed up. Clearly numbering your bin(s) will also help to ensure that the crew can easily identify it for collection. You will also receive a sticker through the post to place on your bin to identify it as part of the service. This sticker needs to be displayed to ensure your brown bin is emptied.

When will I receive my sticker for my brown bin?

Please allow up to 14 days for your sticker to arrive. If you have not received it within three weeks of payment please contact us.

How can I stop other people putting their waste into the garden waste bin(s) that I am paying for?

You should store your bin within your property boundary until collection day in the same way that you would with your other containers.

Can I have an assisted collection for the Garden Waste Collection Service?

If you sign up to the new service and you already have an assisted collection this will continue. If you don't currently have an assisted collection and you would like one then please apply online.

What do I do if I don’t want a garden waste collection?

If you decide not to sign up to the garden waste service, you do not need to contact us to tell us. The brown bin service is ‘opt-in’ which means you only need to contact us if you do wish to sign up.

What do I do if I don’t want re-subscribe to the garden waste service?

If you do not re-subscribe then your brown bin collections will stop at the end of March. You do not need to tell us you are not re-subscribing; as the service will be removed from your property automatically.  

How do I dispose of my garden waste if I choose not to sign up to the Garden Waste Collection Service?

You could compost your garden waste at home. Information about home composting and how to purchase a reduced price home compost bin is on the website. You could also look into a private waste collection, although remember to check that any company has a waste carriers licence.

Can I put garden waste in my black bin?

We strongly discourage residents from placing garden waste in the black bin as there are alternative, more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of it. Residents can sign up to the garden waste collection service or compost at home. However, if you do not produce a large amount of garden waste and have sufficient space in your black bin, then garden waste can be placed in there. This is providing that the bin is not over filled and that you do not place additional side waste out next to your black bin on your general waste collection day. Additional side waste won’t be collected and neither will overfilled bins.

Can I have garden waste collections if I live in a flat?

If you live in a flat but you have your own garden you can still opt into the service. If you have communal gardens you should contact your managing or housing association as they will be responsible for the removal of garden waste.

Can I share a brown bin with my neighbour?

You can share a brown garden waste bin with your neighbour as an informal arrangement, but payment must be made by one householder and the bin will be assigned to one address only.

What is accepted in the brown bin garden waste service?

Garden waste only including:

  • Grass cuttings
  • Hedge clippings
  • Small tree prunings, branches, bark and twigs
  • Tree branches (up to 3cm in diameter)
  • Moss, weeds (excluding controlled weeds such as Japanese Knotweed)
  • Flowers
  • Plants with excess soil removed
  • Fallen fruit
  • Leaves
  • Real Christmas trees without decorations and pot

If I do not wish to subscribe will you come and remove my brown bin?

We do not plan to remove any brown bins initially, it is our experience that residents may change their minds once we enter the growing seasons. We will however make arrangement to remove brown bins from those who no longer want them from August. Please note that only empty brown bins will be collected and removed so do not fill them. Check back in August for further details of how to request a brown bin removal, please also be aware that should you decide to join garden waste scheme after your bin is removed you will need to pay £35 to have another delivered to you.

If you wish to keep you bin and use it around the home you can, however please do not present it to be emptied without a valid subscription.

How do I receive a refund if I have changed my mind or accidentally ordered more bins than I need?

You can contact us with your name, address and your request. As per the terms and conditions any cancellations need to be within 14 days of payment.

Can I put pet bedding from vegetarian animals in the garden waste bin?

Pet bedding is not garden waste and therefore would be classed as general household waste. Strictly, the brown bin is only for garden waste and all other household waste should be placed in bins as specified by the Council.

Can I put cat litter, even if it is compostable / biodegradable, in my brown bin?

From a legislative point of view, we are only able to charge residents for removal of their garden waste, and cat litter – even if it is biodegradable, does not fall into this category. However, you may wish to compost it at home.

Can I take the service with me when I move house?

If you move house within the district, you cannot take the service with you to your new property. You will need to sign up again if you want the service at your new property if the residents at your new property have not already signed up to receive the service. If you move out of the district there is no refund available as you would have already received the service for a period of time before moving properties. Unfortunately transferring collections to a new address has an administrative cost associated with the process and we do not have the resources available to make the necessary amendments to records. We are operating our service in line with other local authorities which also state there are no refunds or transference of service to a different address available if you move house.

What will happen if someone puts their brown bin out for collection but they have not signed up to the service?

We will not be emptying any brown bins which have not been signed up and paid for so if this happens the bin will remain unemptied. Where possible, crews will place a sticker on the bin to advise the reason for the bin not being emptied. Residents will need to sign up to the garden waste service and wait until their first collection.

Can residents put their food waste into a paid for brown bin?

The chargeable garden waste service is for the collection of garden waste only for those residents who have chosen to opt-in to the paid scheme. The Council will continue to collect household waste including food for free, whether you have a brown bin or not. The Council does not encourage the use of the brown bin for the disposal of food waste. If residents choose to put food waste in the brown bin together with garden waste, the Council will still collect and empty the bin, though not if it contains anything else. However, you will be diminishing the bin capacity for your garden waste, for which you have paid the charge.

I have sack collections can I still have sack collections?

Yes, all current sack customers will be written to separately to inform them of what they need to do. The Council will still provide sacks free of charge but you will need to sign up and pay for a subscription.

Can I burn my garden waste?

You can not burn your garden waste if this creates a nuisance to your neighbours. If you have space for a bonfire we would encourage you to use this space to home compost. Some dry garden waste may be suitable to burn but be mindful of your neighbours, as a sunny dry day is often a washing day. More information about bonfires is available on the website

Can I pay by instalments?

No, we are unable to accommodate payment by instalments in our payment system. The cost of doing this would increase the cost of providing the service overall.

Why isn't the charge pro-rata?

We cannot offer a pro-rata charge as it is necessary for us to plan resources, ensuring we have sufficient vehicles and staff throughout the year. Having a fixed sign up period allows for administration of the service to also be contained in a short period. Having a pro rata service would likely result in a higher overall charge requiring ‘just in case’ resources to manage changes in sign up volumes.

My payment has gone to Urbaser, is this right?

Yes. Urbaser carry out the Garden Waste Service on behalf of East Herts Council.