Garden waste collections axed in a third of England's councils

More than a third of councils in England axe collections of garden waste because of staff shortages amid coronavirus pandemic

  • At leaste 125 councils halt services or delay its reintroduction until the summer
  • The public is warned not to start bonfires as windy weather has dried out grass
  • Local Government Association reminds public fly-tipping is ‘never acceptable’
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Green-fingered gardeners will have to go without their garden waste collections as staff shortages leave councils struggling with weekly bin collections.

So far at least 125 local authorities have either put a temporary halt on garden waste collections in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, or delayed its reintroduction until the summer.

More than 70 councils to have suspended the collections charge fees for picking up material such as grass clippings. 

Garden waste bins will be filling up during the coronavirus lockdown, with at least 120 local authorities putting a halt on collections. The Royal Horticultural Society has come up with some alternative ways to deal with green waste in the mean time

Many of these say they will extend existing subscriptions so gardeners do not lose out.

Dozens more have closed schemes to new subscribers or are warning there may be disruption to the service as they protect staff and cope with them falling sick or self-isolating.

A small number of the local authorities who have suspended their green waste service collect bins with garden and food mixed together, and they are telling households to instead put kitchen scraps in the rubbish bin.

Garden waste collections have been suspended or are not restarting as planned in cities such as Leeds, Bristol and Plymouth, across counties including Dorset, and in seven London boroughs.

Householders are being urged to try and limit the waste they generate from extra gardening, DIY or spring cleaning clear-outs as councils deal with increased levels of domestic rubbish from families locked down at home.

Many councils have suspended bulky waste collections and some have told residents they are having to suspend other recycling collections such as paper or glass as they prioritise picking up black bin refuse.

David Renard, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “As coronavirus impacts on the safety of their workforce handling waste, some councils have had to temporarily suspend or reduce the frequency of some kerbside collections.

“This is helping to free up staff to keep other vital waste services running.

“Councils are seeing an increase in household waste, which may be due to people spending more time gardening and mowing their lawn as they follow the guidance to stay at home.”

He said residents could help by reducing waste, checking for updates from their council and following government guidelines on disposing of waste if they are self-isolating.

He added that fly-tipping is “never acceptable”.

Royal Horticultural Society’s tips on how to deal with green waste

  • Have a compost bin or heap and add material including old plants, soft prunings and kitchen waste that will not attract rats, such as fruit and veg peelings.
  • Buy or make a wormery;
  • Bury soft garden waste when digging empty plots including the vegetable garden;
  • Avoid bonfires, because recent windy weather has left material very dry so it may burn too fast and risk fires getting out of control;
  • Woody prunings can be cut up with secateurs and stacked to rot in an out of the way place to help wildlife or, snipped fine, spread back on the ground amongst trees and shrubs.
  • Pruning now can disturb birds so only do it if you are sure no birds are nesting in the shrub or hedge. Otherwise leave pruning until September.
  • Bundles of twigs and hollow stems can be tied up and wedged in walls, trees or in boxes to make resting and nesting areas for insects.
  • The RHS suggests you could mow your lawn more frequently, with shorter clippings allowed to fall back and disappear into the grass, or collect them and use them as mulch around trees and shrubs.
  • Some councils are suggesting mowing the lawn less often and letting a mini meadow appear.



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