It took more than one month to get a reply from the council and the only reason I got a reply is because I emailed our MP but here it is for you to view the reply... Feel free to email the council....
Thank you for your email which has been passed to me for a response. I am sorry that you haven’t had any responses to your previous emails. I have answered each of your questions using your numbering and trust that this will give you all the information you have been seeking.
1. Can you confirm that the rubbish collection (blue, green and brown) has been included in our council tax until your new proposal?
Yes – the service is funded primarily from council tax and government grants, and continues to be free for general waste and dry recyclable collections, along with other services such as hazardous and clinical waste collection from households. The law allows discretionary charges to be made for provision of some household waste services including garden waste. A decision has been taken to introduce a charge for garden waste collection from 2019/20 onwards – this approach is already in place in the many councils which provide a garden waste collection service.
2. Can you confirm that this is a way to increase further more the council tax as all the bins collections were included until now?
This is not a change to council tax. The collection of garden waste is a discretionary service for which the council can choose to make a charge. This has been the legal position since the Environment Act 1990. In 2019/20 the council took a decision to make a charge for the first time as part of the annual budget setting process.
3. If you feel that some resident do not use the brown bin service, why not reduce their council tax as the bin service is included in the council tax?
The Council has no power to reduce council tax for households not using particular services in this way. Council tax is a property tax based on the value banding of the property and levied according to nationally fixed rules – it is not a service charge made for the provision of services, and the council has very limited powers to make local changes.
4. Can you confirm that this is an extra tax on people who maintain their garden as an eco friendly space, contributing to allow birds, bees, insects and many endangered species in London to live?
The introduction of a charge for the collection of garden waste does not affect how any resident chooses to maintain their garden. The most environmentally sustainable way of managing garden waste is to compost it within the garden, and use the resulting compost in the garden. We have provided many thousands of home composting bins for this purpose already, and many residents already compost their own waste in preference to having it collected. Not only does this minimise transport impacts in collecting and managing waste, it recycles nutrients back into the soil; the compost heaps provide habitat for a range of insects and fungi; and home composting minimises the overall carbon impacts of managing the waste.
5. Can you confirm that by introducing this new charge, you are encouraging residents with a garden, to pave their front and back garden, therefore contributing to destroying the planet?
No – the council is not encouraging residents to pave their gardens.
6. You are telling people to separate food waste and garden waste in different bins:
6.1. Does it mean that there will be a different collection for food waste bins?
6.2. If it is the case, isn’t it an extra cost for the council for nothing as it ends up in the same place?
6.3. Veolia staff are telling residents that the food bins and brown bins will be collected by the same truck, so why ask people to have two bins?
We expect that a separate collection for food and garden waste will be required in the next few years, with food waste and garden being composted through different processes. This change begins the process of providing separate collections, and although we will initially co-collect both waste types in the same vehicle, this is not expected to continue in the longer term. Separate collection and different treatment routes for food and garden waste are already an aim of the London Environment Strategy, and the government centrally has recently consulted on national measures to implement this approach.
7. By introducing this extra tax you are also encouraging residents not to separate their garden waste to their green bin’s waste?
Garden waste is not collected in green residual waste bins. If residents present significant quantities of garden waste in their residual waste bins they may be treated as contaminated and not collected. Residents should either compost their garden waste themselves, bring it at no charge to the Househld Waste Recycling & Reuse Centre, or use one of the paid services for collection of garden waste that are provided by the council.
8. With this tax, you are also encouraging people to steal stickered brown bins?
Collection stickers include the address of the address serviced. This helps ensure that people get their own bins back, and if stolen, they can be recovered and returned to their rightful owner.
9. How are you going to deal with stickered brown bins stealing?
See Q6 above
10. What information will be printed on the stickers as residents do not want their address and name on their bin?
Names are not included, but addresses are – not least to prevent theft. Given that the bin will be located at the address to which it relates, printing the address on the sticker will clearly not breach any confidentiality.
11. How will you be renewing stickers of stolen bins?
Where a bin is stolen and reported by the resident, a duplicate sticker will be issued to the resident with a replacement bin – unless the missing bin can be identified elsewhere and returned.
12. Can you confirm how the council will dispose of the unused brown bins collected in an environmental friendly way and explain this way?
Many of the bins recovered from non subscribing households will be retained, and cleaned for re-issue. Those which are damaged or not required will be returned to the bin manufacturer. The bins are then shredded, and the plastic is granulated and cleaned for remanufacture into new bins.
13. The streets of Southwark are littered with bins which are left on pavements all week long, obstructing the way, smelling and being an eyesore, what is the council doing so that people move their bins from pavements and keep them in their property until the collection day?
Not all residents have suitable storage space within their property for storage of bins. The council takes a practical view with regards to bin storage and will normally take action to remove where the bins cause an obstruction or have other adverse impacts on the local area. If bins are withdrawn, residents would be obliged to present their household waste in bags, and this might result in vermin having access to the waste and increase mess on the pavements, so we would seek to take a balanced view that takes account of these factors. Where residents do have suitable space for storing bins and have left them on the pavement for an extended period, the council reserves the right to remove them entirely.
Whilst I fully appreciate that your preference would be that the council provide this service without making a charge, the decision to charge for collection of garden waste is not one that has been taken lightly. It has been necessary to introduce a charge to avoid the need for reductions in other areas of service, as the council must balance its expenditure and income across a range of important services.
With best regards
Strategic Director of Environment & Leisure
160 Tooley Street | London SE1 2QH