Most households now have to pay for collection of bulky rubbish and garden waste

Most households have to pay for collection of bulky rubbish and garden waste.
Most households have to pay for collection of bulky rubbish and garden waste.

The majority of councils now charge households to pick up their garden waste and bulky items of rubbish such as old furniture, an investigation shows.

Three-fifths (60%) of local authorities with responsibility for rubbish collections impose costs for picking up waste from the garden such as grass cuttings and pruned branches, with charges of up to £96 a year for a bin collection service.

More than nine out of 10 councils charge for collecting bulky waste, with prices varying dramatically from just a few pounds for a single item to more than £100 for a number of pieces of rubbish or even a van-load.

Many councils have discounts for the services for pensioners or people receiving certain benefits.

A handful of councils do not offer a bulky waste service, while a small number said they did not charge for picking up large items of rubbish from households or offered a number of free collections a year before charges kicked in.

One of the councils which does not charge for bulky waste is Nottingham City Council, which says the free collection it offers for large items ranging from furniture to televisions is a "major factor" in a 42% fall in fly-tipping rates in the city since 2013.

Across England the number of fly-tipping incidents reported by councils have risen for three years in a row, Government figures show.

Dumped items range from black bags to van-loads of rubbish, and include tens of thousands of electrical or white goods and green waste.

But with councils facing ongoing pressure on their budgets, many have brought in more charges for bulky waste or garden waste collections, which may once have been provided free.

Charges for collecting gardening debris range from around £20 to £96 for a bin for a year, while in many areas residents can buy sacks for their garden waste as an alternative.

Martin Tett, environment spokesman for the Local Government Association environment, said: "Some councils were able to provide free garden and bulky waste services when they were first introduced, but are now having to charge to reflect the growing cost of providing a collection service.

"Money from garden and bulky waste collection charges goes back into maintaining the service."

An Environment Department (Defra) spokeswoman said: "Appropriate charges for garden or bulky waste collections are a decision for individual local authorities.

"We are clear that these should be applied in a fair and proportionate way."

* Information about charges for garden and bulky waste collections from households was sourced through a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association and from publicly available information on local authority websites.