Below is a briefing from the Council on the “Garden Tax”. The key change is a 40% price hike, but the exemptions I argued for have been retained. There will also be more flexibility for some people on how registration works. Promoting the scheme as outlined in Section 5 will cost £70,000.
Edinburgh Garden Waste Collection Briefing 2021/22
The paid garden waste collection service is approaching its fourth year, with the main registration window opening on 22 July. This briefing note provides background on the service, the registration window, how we are communicating with customers and the key dates around this.
2.0 Key Dates
|2021/22 Main registration opens||22 July at 10am (runs for 6 weeks)|
|2021/22 Main registration closes||1 September at 2pm|
|Letter, with permit and calendar, land||Between 25 October and 3 November|
|Current 2020/21 collection year ends||7 November|
|New 2021/22 collection year starts||8 November|
|Missing letters (permits) to be reported||As soon as possible after 3 November and before 3 December|
|Mid-year window opens||1 December at 10am|
|Service suspended||From 20 December until 16 January|
|Mid-year registrations processed||Monthly (see section 4 below for more details)|
|Mid-year registration closes||At least 31 May 2022 (longer is being investigated, see section 4 below for more details)|
|2021/22 collection year ends||6 November 2022|
3.0 The Service
Any residential household within Edinburgh can register for the garden waste service during the registration windows.
Customers who sign up receive a fortnightly collection. The service runs from 8 November 2021 until 6 November 2022, with no collections between 20 December and 16 January. The festive break in service allows us to divert resources to other recycling and waste streams during the busy festive period.
The cost of the service is £35 per bin. This is a price increase from the previous £25. This is the first price increase since the charge was introduced in 2018 and is required to ensure the Council can cover its costs for delivering this collection service. The price increase was approved at Council in February 2021.
A customer can sign up during the mid-year registration window however the cost will remain at £35 and the permit will run until the end of this service year, which is 6 November 2022.
Exemptions from paying were established at the introduction of the charge and these continue. A customer can request an exemption if they receive Council Tax Reduction (formerly called Council Tax Benefit) or are classed, or live with someone who has been classed as, severely mentally impaired. Other council tax discounts, such as single occupancy or disabled person discount, don’t qualify for this reduction. Households that pay for garden aid are not exempt from paying for the service.
If a customer is eligible for an exemption they must still register during the sign up windows in order to receive the service. Exemption eligibility is checked before the subscription is progressed, if this check highlights that the customer doesn’t qualify the registration is cancelled and the customer is contacted advising them of this and how to pay if they still want to receive the service. Where this happens close to the registration closing, the customer is given a short extension to call and pay over the phone.
Once the registration window closes, and the required eligibility and data quality checks are complete, the registrations are processed onto the waste collection systems and new routes are created.
During the two weeks ahead of the service commencing the customer will receive a letter, with an attached permit sticker (and additional permit stickers if more than one bin has been registered for the property), and the collection calendar for the garden waste service address. The customer’s name will also be added to the letter where it is feasible to do so.
From this year, customers will now have the opportunity to select whether they want this letter to be sent to their home address or their garden waste service address if they are registering for a different property. This has been a highly requested option from customers, in particular those supporting individuals with care needs and landlords registering their properties.
Customers are advised that if they do not receive the permit by a specific date, they should report this as soon as possible, and no later than 28 days after this date. For those registering in the main window, this would be if it has not arrived by 3 November and should be reported no later than 3 December.
Customers are advised to attach the permit to a clean and clear part of the bin below the handles; this allows the collection crews a quick way of confirming registered bins as the colour of the permit changes each year. If the bin does not have the permit attached it will not be emptied.
The permit is a tamper-proof permit meaning that, if a permit was to be ripped off the bin, it would leave behind evidence the customer had paid for that year’s collections and the part taken off becomes void.
3.3 Tiphereth Customers
Tiphereth undertake garden waste collections in the Colinton area of Edinburgh through a long-running agreement. Customers on the streets serviced by Tiphereth would still register for the service via the Council however they would receive a weekly bag collection carried out by Tiphereth.
3.4 Internal site and other organisations
We don’t offer a commercial garden waste service however internal Council sites, and a limited number of other organisations (namely bowling clubs, lawn tennis courts, and croquet clubs), can register for the garden waste service.
The charge remains the same as residential customers, and the registration process and timescales also remain the same.
The key difference for these sites is that a Waste Transfer Note (WTN) covering the collection year must also be signed before the permit is sent out and the details of this are outlined at the point of registering. The WTN is a legal requirement to ensure the Council and the business is compliant with their duty of care. Where it has not been possible to get a signed WTN back within the deadline the subscription is cancelled and the business is refunded, it is possible for them to sign up again in the next registration window.
4.0 How to Register
The quickest and easiest way to register and pay is on our website at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste
Signing in to a MyGov account is now optional in order to make the process easier, however registering without signing in will mean the customer will not see the history of their garden waste subscription on their account.
Residents can ask a family member, friend or neighbour to register and pay on their behalf online if they’re unable to do it themselves.
Customers eligible for an exemption can register using the online form, or by using the phone number below if they don’t have access to the internet or someone who can register on their behalf.
Anyone without access to the internet can call us on 0131 357 2800. Phone lines are open Monday to Thursday between 10am – 4pm and Friday 10am – 3.40pm.
It’s not possible for a resident to register in person at one of our locality offices. They will need to register online or by telephone instead.
A one-off payment of £35 (per brown bin) will be taken by debit or credit card. There is no limit to how many garden waste bins a property can have but there will be a charge of £35 per bin.
Aligning to corporate policy, we don’t accept cheques or cash payments.
Residents can share a bin with their neighbours, but they’ll need to agree on one resident acting as the lead for booking and paying for the service against their property. If there are any service issues with the shared bin (e.g. a missed collection), then this must be reported against the property with the permit.
Residents are encouraged to sign up early once the registration window is opened.
Registrations cannot be made outside of the sign-up windows.
4.1 Main Registration Window
To receive the service for the full collection year, (and have a continuous service if they are already a customer) residents must register during the main registration window using the method outlined above. This window runs from 10am on 22 July until 2pm on 1 September.
4.2 Mid-Year Registration Window
If a customer moves into the area after the main windows closes (or they changed their mind or missed the summer window), we operate a mid-year registration window. Previously this was two weeks held around January/February, however as of this year this window will be greatly expanded opening from 1 December 2021.
The approach to the mid-year window was approved at Transport and Environment Committee in June 2021, with an amendment to continue the mid-year window beyond 31 May 2022 (the originally proposed close date for the mid-year window) with details of this to be reported to Transport and Environment Committee in March 2022.
Similar to previous years, a further Members Briefing will be circulated ahead of the mid-year window opening with specific details on this registration process.
A comprehensive communications campaign is being implemented to raise awareness of garden waste registration and to encourage sign up during the main registration window (between 22 July and 1 September).
The communications approach is using multiple channels to raise awareness to as many residents as possible and encourage sign up. The following communication channels are being used:
- Lamppost wraps – targeted at areas people visit regularly such as supermarket
- Radio/Spotify adverts o Social media posts (including sponsored adverts)
- Press (press releases and reactive press statements as required)
- Council website
- Adverts in supermarkets
- Billboards on key arterial routes
- Mailing to existing customers and those that have registered an interest for this registration window, to advise of the registration window.
- Customers who we have an email address for, will be sent emails from 22 July and those without email addresses will receive a letter. Both the email and letter will explain to customers what they need to do and about the rate change.
6.0 Summary of Key Points
The main registration window opens at 10am on 22 July closing at 2pm on 1 September. Registrations after this time will not be processed.
The rate will now be £35 per bin, as approved by Council, to ensure full cost recovery of the collection and subscription management service.
The registration window will be supported by a multi-channel, comprehensive, communication campaign.
Residents are encouraged to register online (or have a family member, friend or neighbour register on their behalf). The other option to register is via phone.
Residents cannot register in person at one of our locality offices, and cheque/cash payment will not be accepted.
The mid-year registration will open from 1 December; however, the charge will remain at £35 and the service year ends 6 November 2022.
Details of the full terms and conditions can be found here: www.edinburgh.gov.uk/gardenwaste.