Introducing a charge for garden waste collection

The decision was made to introduce a charge for the collection of garden waste during the council's annual budget meeting for 2023/2024 on Tuesday 28 February 2023.

The collection of garden waste is not a statutory service, and with reducing budgets and increasing costs, East Lothian Council can no longer afford to operate this type of collection as a free service.

Until now we have chosen to offer a free service, but this was subsidised from council tax paid by all households, including those who do not use it or do not have gardens. Introducing a permit system for those who do wish to have a kerbside collection of garden waste will support and protect the delivery of other core services across the county.

To keep a garden waste collection service, it is necessary to introduce a charge to contribute towards the cost of it. Households do not have to use the chargeable service and residents can dispose of garden waste free of charge at our recycling centres.

Key points to note

  1. many councils in Scotland charge for this service, including Edinburgh, Falkirk, Midlothian, Aberdeen, Dundee, East Renfrewshire, Highland, Inverclyde, Moray and Perth and Kinross
  2. the garden waste permit charge will be £35 - this will cover the period 1 July 2024 to 27 June 2025
  3. registration is for the full 12 months only
  4. permits can be cancelled at any time throughout the year but there will be no refunds given
  5. the council has the legal authority to do this as the Controlled Waste Regulations 1992 (Schedule 2) specify garden waste as a type of household waste for which a collection charge may be applied - plus garden waste is not one of the materials that local authorities are required to collect for recycling, as specified in the Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2012

Applying for a permit when the registration period opens on 1 April 2024

  • from 1 April residents can apply on the council website or call us on 01875 824305 - updates and reminders will also be posted on our social media
  • you can order a garden waste permit if you have a brown bin at your property. Only one brown bin permit can be applied for per property
  • if you do not have a brown bin at your property register for a permit first then contact wasteservices@eastlothian.gov.uk and we will deliver a bin to your address
  • the registration period will be open from 1 April 2024 to 6 May 2024 - after this date we regret we cannot add properties to collection routes

Concessions 

No concessions are available. All residents have to pay the full charge if they want the garden waste collection service.

Permit stickers

When you register you will get your permit before collections start on 1 July 2024. You will get a permit sticker to go on your bin. The sticker will show the address and permit number for the registered property and the expiry date of the permit. Collection crews will only empty the brown bins with a valid sticker clearly displayed and they will check the sticker details match the property address.

If residents don't purchase a permit and continue to place garden waste in their brown bin, the bin will not be emptied. Residents can dispose of garden waste free of charge at our recycling centres.

Moving house

Permits are for the property address, so if you move house the permit will stay at your old address. Permits cannot be transferred or refunded. If you move house, you can apply for a collection your new address in the next registration period.

Flats with shared areas

It is the residents’ responsibility to organise ordering and payment for the service. This may be done by splitting the cost but only one person should order the permit and pay the full amount.

Refunds for missed collections

Refunds will not be given for missed collections. If a collection is missed and the bin was presented on time and correctly, the collection will be completed as soon as possible. If the bin is not presented correctly you will be required to wait until the next scheduled collection before it is emptied.

Replacement permits

If your bin is lost you can request a replacement bin and replacement permit by email to wasteservices@eastlothian.gov.uk  or you can call 01875 824305 . Both will be provided free of charge.

If you don’t want to use this permit service 

We will not collect your brown bin bins. These should be stay at the property for potential use in future.

Items you can recycle in your brown bin:

Garden waste including grass cuttings, leaves, bark, flowers/plants, hedge trimmings, weeds, twigs/small branches are all accepted materials in brown bins.

Read more about what can be recycled in each bin

Items you can't recycle in your brown bin:

Pet waste, soil, turf, stones, plant pots, garden furniture, plastic bags, or any general waste.  

Bins 'contaminated' with other waste will not be uplifted by collection crews as the presence of other waste can negatively impact the quality of the compost produced at the re-processing site. 

Collections

  • garden waste will be collected fortnighly and you will be sent a collection calendar before the service starts on 1 July 2024.
  • if you have an assisted collection this will automatically continue
  • report a missed collection online or call 01620 827827

Fly tipping risk

Councils who have already introduced this charge have found no evidence to suggest that fly tipping of garden waste has increased as a result. The disposal of garden waste is the householder's responsibility and residents can dispose of garden waste free of charge at our recycling centres

Garden aid 

If you are a Garden aid customer work carried out by the Garden aid team should be removed by them.

Leaves outside your property

Leaves that fall into your garden from trees out with your property are legally the responsibility of the property occupier.

The garden waste is composted

Garden waste collected in East Lothian is composted by Forth Resource Management. For more information visit their website frmrecycling.co.uk.

The council does not receive any income from garden waste we pay to compost the material we collect.

More information

If you have a query email wasteservices@eastlothian.gov.uk.