It’s around this time of year that, for those of us with gardens, hedge strimmers, lawn mowers and trowels are more useful than ever as flower beds, lawns and hedges thrive.
Green-fingered or not, most readers will be aware of a major change set to affect garden waste collections this year – from October, we will be charging £25 annually for the service.
Not only will this allow us to increase collections – we’ll be upping their frequency from once every three weeks to fortnightly – it will help us to make significant savings (around £1.3million), which will be reinvested into essential services like education, care and social housing.
Every year, as part of our budget, we are forced to make tough decisions in light of increasing financial pressures. In February, as part of this process, we agreed to begin charging for garden waste collections, a service which is non-statutory and one that we simply can no longer justify providing for free while we face increasing demands across many council services.
We are not alone here. Almost 50 per cent of councils in the UK already charge for garden waste collections, while some have stopped providing the service altogether. And at £25 a year – working out at less than 50p a week – our annual fee will be less than most local authorities charge.
Of course, this is a big change for people who use the service and we’re doing everything we can to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. Letters will soon be hitting the doormats of households across the city with information on how to sign up for the service and, importantly, guidance on recycling in general.
We are still 100 per cent committed to increasing recycling rates across the Capital, and that’s why we’ve taken this opportunity to write to thousands of homes, even if the properties aren’t suitable for garden waste collections (such as tenements), with tips on how best to dispose of waste, whether it’s food, plastic or paper.
Reducing waste is more relevant than ever – as a society we are becoming increasingly aware of the impact plastics can have on the environment, and it’s thanks to our residents that we have been able to lower the amount of rubbish sent to landfill. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to dispose of paper, food and packaging sensibly. In 2014 we rolled out new kerbside bin collections for more than 140,000 households, expanding capacity for recycling, while we’re currently trialling better recycling facilities for flats and tenements.
For residents who choose not to continue receiving brown bin collections we would really encourage them to recycle hedge cuttings, grass and other garden waste at our three Household Waste and Recycling Centres, all of which are open seven days a week, or by composting in their own gardens.
This is, ultimately, about striking a balance between providing vital services to our growing population, in the face of increasing demands and financial pressures, and helping citizens to dispose of waste efficiently and responsibly.
Residents who want to continue receiving brown bin collections should sign up for the new service online at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste by July 22.
Councillor Lesley Macinnes is Transport and Environment Convener at Edinburgh City Council