Only 9.5% of residents have paid £25 charge to get garden waste wheelie bins emptied, figures show.
Today (29th February) is the last day that residents in Sunderland can pay £25 to the Council to receive 17 brown wheelie bin collections, which begin in late March and last until November.
Figures obtained by Wearside Liberal Democrats show that the Council spent £27,404 printing and posting letters to 91,000 households in the city informing residents that they will be charged for garden waste collections from brown bins.
As of 1st February, only 8,657 households had paid the charge and signed up for the service – 9.5% of those in Sunderland who have a brown bin.
The garden waste collections were originally introduced by the Council to recycle green waste like grass cuttings and hedge trimmings into mulch and soil conditioner, and to reduce the amount the Council has to pay in landfill tax.
Wearside Lib Dems said they feared the low take-up would lead to garden waste being sent to landfill or dumped in back lanes.
Millfield and Thornholme Lib Dem campaigner Niall Hodson said:
“When the charge was announced by the Council in October last year, a Sunderland Echo poll found that 89% of residents said they would not pay the charge. Yet the actual figures show that take-up is even worse.
“This confirms our worst fears – that the vast majority of people wouldn’t pay the £25 brown bin tax. I’m really worried that this will mean garden waste from the 90% of households that haven’t paid the charge will end up going to landfill.
“Sunderland already has one of the worst recycling rates in the country – this shambles of a brown bin charge only looks set to make things worse.
“Doing the right thing for the environment shouldn’t be a luxury available only to people who are able to pay the extra £25 brown bin tax.”
Meg Crosby, Lib Dem campaigner for Herrington and Farringdon added:
"As a keen gardener, I am disappointed that the council has, in effect, imposed a "garden tax" on those Sunderland residents lucky enough to have a green space. When this measure was imposed in Birmingham, abandoned bin bags filled with hedge trimmings and grass cuttings appeared across their city, and huge peak-time queues were reported at household refuse sites."
Notes to editors:
A photo is attached: "A sign of things to come? Niall Hodson with green waste left in a back lane."
Sunderland’s recycling rate in 2014/15 was 30.6%: 313th out of 352 local authorities in England. Information is available from letsrecycle.com at:
A Freedom of Information request to Sunderland City Council by Wearside Liberal Democrats revealed the following:
A) how many households received a letter informing them of the £25 garden waste charge
The information letters were sent to 91,000 properties.
B) what was the cost of i) printing and ii) posting all of these letters
The total costs of printing and posting these letters was £27,404.
C) how many households have responded and paid the £25 charge (or indicated that they will do so)
At 1st February 2016, 8,657 households have subscribed and paid the £25 for the new service, and this is anticipated to increase as residents chose to take up the service in the spring.