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Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Recycling More Together

Garden waste: questions answered


We'll update our garden waste frequently asked questions as more details of the new service are finalised.

You can sign up to the service now and save £10 on your first year's subscription.

You can also sign up for email updates on the new opt-in service or subscribe to the service.

About the new service

It is an opt-in, chargeable service to have domestic garden waste collected fortnightly from your home using a black 240 litre wheeled bin, which will be delivered to you when you subscribe to the service.

The new service will begin on Monday 30 September.

The current service will continue while preparations are made to launch the new opt-in garden waste collection service.

Our opt-in garden waste service is now open for registration.

If you sign up during our introductory offer (Tuesday 7 May - Friday 2 August) you will receive a £10 discount on your first year's subscription, reducing the cost to £42 per bin per year.

From Saturday 3 August, the cost will be £52 per bin per year.

You can sign up in our Garden waste: sign up page.

Yes, you will be able to order up to three garden waste bins per property.

Please note each bin will be charged at £52 a year.

No, the charge is for the collection of the waste, not the purchase of the new wheeled bin.

The bin remains the property of the Council.

If your property is unsuitable for wheeled bins, you can subscribe to the service for a black re-usable hessian sack collection.

This will be the same annual charge as a 240 litre wheeled bin and you will receive 3 x 90 litre re-usable hessian sacks.

Garden waste will not be collected in other sacks/ bags apart from those issued by the Borough Council.

You can share a garden waste bin with your neighbour as an informal arrangement.

Payment must be made by one householder and the bin will be assigned to one address only.

If you live in a flat but you have your own garden and wheeled bins you can still opt into the service.

If you have communal gardens/bins you should contact your managing agent or housing association as they will be responsible for the removal of garden waste.

If you sign up to the new service and you already have an assisted collection, where the bin is pulled out and returned for you, this will continue.

If you don't currently have an assisted collection and you have difficulties presenting your bins please let us know.

No, if you decide you do not want or need the garden waste service you do not need to contact us.

Our new garden waste service is opt-in which means you only need to let us know if you would like to receive this service.

The Council will sweep leaves from roads and pavements in the borough regardless of the ownership of land from where they came.

The Council is not responsible for the collection/disposal of leaves from residents’ properties which may have fallen from highway land or other landowners’ trees, apart from through the opt-in garden waste service.

If you live in area enhanced by the natural beauty of trees and woodland, and have leaf fall in the autumn, a good way of dealing with this is to ‘mulch’ the leaves, which provides an excellent soil improver for your garden.

Alternatively you may wish to take them to your nearest household waste recycling site where they will be composted.

Yes, you can register at any time of the year.

If you would like your garden waste collection service to continue without any interruptions you will need to register between 7 May 2019 and 2 August 2019. This is so we can ensure your new black bin is delivered in time for Monday 30 September when the opt-in service begins.

Also, if you register during that period (7 May - 2 August) you will receive a £10 discount on your first year's subscription, reducing the cost to £42 per bin per year, as part of our introductory offer.

You can sign up at our Garden waste: sign up page.

The opt-in service starts from Monday 30 September for those who have signed up during the introductory offer period.

The introductory offer period is open between 7 May and 2 August, and if you sign up during this period you will receive the introductory offer rate of £42 for the first year.

If you have signed up but your bin is not put out for collection, it will not be emptied.

If you register after 2 August your service will start as soon as possible.

You do not need to opt out of the garden waste service.

If you don’t sign up to the service and pay the subscription, you will no longer receive garden waste collections from the end of September.

The opt-in garden waste service will operate on a fortnightly basis and so there will be 26 collections a year.

The current brown bin garden waste collections have not been suspended over the Christmas period. We endeavour to keep the collections going throughout the year.

If you have opted into our garden waste scheme and you move house you will need to let us know.

If you move within the Borough we will deliver a container to your new property and collect the container from your old property. We'll also update the crews collection schedule to ensure your garden waste is collected from your new property.

If you move outside of the Borough we will cancel your garden waste service. No refunds will be made in these circumstances.

Our collection crews use an electronic collection management system, which has a record of the properties which are registered for the scheme so they will know exactly which properties are entitled to a collection.

The collection crews will only empty garden waste bins which are outside properties that are registered for the service.

You can put your house number on the bin which will help deter theft, and keeping your bin on your property until collection day will prevent other people using your bin.

New service costs

The opt-in garden waste service will cost £52 per bin for a 1 year subscription.

If you sign up between Tuesday 7 May and Friday 2 August you will receive a £10 discount on your first year's subscription - so you'll pay £42 per subscription.

You can have up to three subscriptions per property.

No. The annual charge applies to all households regardless of personal circumstances.

We do have an introductory offer for customers who sign up between Tuesday 7 May and Friday 2 August - you will receive a £10 discount on your first year's subscription. You will also ensure that your garden waste collections will continue without a break.

Other options are available for disposal of garden waste, such as home composting or taking it to a household waste recycling site.

You can also share a garden waste bin with your neighbour as an informal arrangement. Payment must be made by one householder and the bin will be assigned to one address only.

At the moment the understanding is that the payment will be taken in full when you opt-in for the garden waste service.

Unlike household waste and recycling, there's no legal requirement to collect garden waste and councils can charge for collections.

The income from charging for garden waste collections will help us to improve the waste and recycling collection service by introducing new services such as weekly food waste collections and fortnightly glass, textiles, batteries and small electrical item collections.

Not all properties require a garden waste collection service because they do not have a garden.

Introducing a charge means the service will only be paid for by those households that choose to use it.This is similar to large and electrical item collections where only households requesting the service have to pay.

The decision to introduce an opt-in charge of £52 for garden waste was taken by the Council’s Cabinet in August 2018.

Charging for garden waste collection brings us in line with more than half of councils across the country who now charge for this service.

The Council must provide certain statutory services, these include waste collection and disposal, street cleaning and recycling.

Council Tax helps to provide these statutory services but collecting garden waste is a discretionary service and the Council can no longer afford to provide this service free of charge.

Since not all residents need or want to use the service a decision was taken to continue to offer garden waste collection but as an opt-in chargeable service.

Yes, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, councils can charge for the collection of garden waste.

Over half of all councils in England already charge for the collection of garden waste.

You can still take your garden waste to any of the County Council's household waste recycling centres, or you can compost your garden waste at home.

Fees and charges for services and Council Tax rates are set locally by each authority.

The decision to introduce an opt-in charge of £52 for garden waste was taken by the elected members of the Council’s Cabinet in August 2018 taking into account the overall financial implications of the new recycling, waste and street cleaning service.

The quickest and easiest way to opt-in to our garden waste service is to sign up and pay online using a debit or credit card.

Sign up today

You can also opt-in and pay by Direct Debit, or using a debit or credit card by calling our customer service team on 01892 526121.

There will be no reduction in cost for the smaller bin, the fee is the same whether you opt for the 240L bin, the 140L bin or hessian sacks.

Other ways to dispose of garden waste

You can compost garden waste at home or alternatively you can take it to the North Farm tip.

Once the new service starts at the end of September, garden waste will no longer be accepted by the Civic Amenity Vehicle.

If you choose not to subscribe to the new garden waste service you can compost at home or take your garden waste to the North Farm tip where it can be recycled.

No, your green household waste bin is only for non-recyclable waste.

If your bin contains garden waste such as grass, leaves, prunings etc. it will not be emptied.

Garden bonfires can cause real annoyance and nuisance to neighbours and we strongly discourage them.

You can find more information about bonfires on our website.

In other areas where chargeable garden waste has been introduced there has been no appreciable increase in complaints around bonfires.

Your new garden bin

Compostable garden waste including:

  • Grass cuttings
  • Hedge clippings
  • Small tree prunings, branches, bark and twigs
  • Tree branches (up to 3 inches or 7.5cm in diameter),
  • Moss, weeds (but not controlled weeds such as Japanese Knotweed and Ragwort)
  • Flowers
  • Plants with excess soil removed
  • Fallen fruit (please do not put too much in the bin because if it becomes too heavy it may snap off the bin lift, so we would not be able to collect it).
  • Leaves
  • Real Christmas trees (without decorations or pot)

Your garden waste bin will not be emptied if it contains any of the following:

  • Food waste
  • Soil or turf
  • Stones
  • Cat or dog litter
  • Pet faeces
  • Plastic plant pots
  • Polystyrene
  • Compostable or cornstarch bags
  • Fence panels and posts
  • Treated wood
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Glass
  • Artificial christmas trees
  • Ash
  • Shredded paper

Your new wheeled bin is for garden waste only.

Your food waste will be collected separately every week which means the two material streams can be processed in different ways.

Food waste will be processed by In Vessel composting at Blaise Farm in West Malling, and garden waste may be composted at other locations which will not allow food waste.

It is better to collect food waste every week as it helps to minimise smells and flies.

The 23L food caddy has a lockable lid keeping the contents secure until collection.

No, it is not garden waste so should be bagged and placed into your green household waste bin.

No, please do not use any kind of liner in the bin as it could fall out of the bin when it is emptied into the vehicle, and contaminate the garden waste.

The garden waste collected will be composted and used as a soil improver on farmland, to help grow new crops.

You should store your bin within your property boundary until collection day in the same way that you would with your other containers.

Numbering your bin will also help avoid mistakes by other residents.

The majority of homes will be given a 240L black bin when they opt-in to the garden waste service.

Homes which have a smaller garden can choose to request a smaller 140L bin or to have sacks for their garden waste.

We are not able to offer larger (360L) garden waste bins, however you will be able to order up to three garden waste bins per property.

Please note each bin will be charged at £52 a year.

Container sizes

Container sizeHeightWidthDepth
240L Wheeled bin 1,063mm 477mm 713mm
140L Wheeled bin 1,050mm 475mm 545mm
Please note container dimensions may vary slightly, as we have used different manufacturers

The black bins will be delivered to those who have opted into the garden waste service in time for the service to continue without interruption.

Ideally you will have the bin 2-4 weeks in advance of the service starting.

Your current brown bin

The brown bin will become your recycling bin for plastics, cans and glass. Black bins will only be provided to those residents who sign up for the opt-in garden waste service. The green boxes will be used for paper and cardboard recycling. Separating materials in this way helps to ensure they are not contaminated when they are sent to the recycling companies.

If you do not currently have a brown bin collection where you live you will be given a brown bin or hessian sacks for your mixed recycling when the new service starts.

When the new service starts in September 2019 your brown bin will be used for glass, plastic and cans recycling.

Yes, if you can make use of two brown bins for glass, plastic and cans recycling when the new service start in September you can keep them.

If you don’t think you’ll need two brown bins after 30 September 2019 please let us know and we will collect one from you.

Have bins or boxes you no longer need? Use this service to let us know and we will come and collect them from you.

Please leave the bins or boxes at the front of your property where our crew can see them.

Ask us to take away a bin or box

If your household waste or recycling containers are damaged or you need a replacement container, you can let us know this online using our bin repairs and replacements form.

The Council is not providing a bin cleaning service. If you wish you can rinse your bin out before using it for your mixed recycling when the new service starts.

Alternatively, there are local companies who offer this service if you prefer.


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