Agenda item

Pre-Decision Scrutiny - Garden Waste Service

This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee (due for publication on Monday 23rd October 2023).


[With the Chair’s agreement item 5 on the published agenda – Pre-Decision – Garden Waste Service – was considered as item 4 at the meeting]


The Portfolio Holder for Environmental Services addressed the Committee to introduce this item and in doing so stated that the provision of Garden Waste Service to residents was a matter the Portfolio Holder had been passionate about, and campaigned, for over a decade and he was pleased that a dedicated Garden Waste Collection Service was finally going to be provided to Redditch residents, subject to approval of the report recommendations by the Executive Committee and Full Council.


The Environmental Services Manager introduced the report and noted that in 2017, Redditch Borough Council commissioned Bromsgrove District Council to use spare capacity within their garden waste service to support Redditch residents by providing a limited service utilising a single vehicle and crew every other week for 20 scheduled collections per year (February – November). This was to gauge the level of interest for the service among Redditch residents.


It was added that in 2021 the Government outlined plans for potential changes to legisltation around Garden Waste including the possibility of making collection of garden waste a statutory service for local authorities. Last week it was announced, however, that the Government was not planning to change legislation on Garden Waste. This meant that the Council would retain discretion over whether to provide the service and whether, and how much, it charged for it.


The proposals were set out as being to purchase one additional refuse vehicle and to recruit three full-time staff to provide a dedicated Redditch Borough Council Garden Waste Collection Service. As the lead in time for purchases of new Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCV’s) were approximately 18 months at the moment, it was proposed that if the Council were to expand the current service, an RCV was hired to support the service from February 2024 until the delivery of the dedicated vehicle. This would necessitate the hire of the refuse vehicle for the 40 weeks of the year that the current garden waste service operated.


The current arrangements cost £49,000 for the provision of the vehicle and staff from Bromsgrove District Council’s service, but generated £88,500 in income, leaving a net benefit to Redditch Borough Council of £39,500 with minimal direct risk. It was estimated that the service with the new arrangements, if agreed, would require 1-2 years to build its customer base to a break-even point (approximately 1,300 additional customers at current pricing levels). This service, however, then had the potential to grow and deliver more significant income for the Council in the longer term.


It was noted that based on the current customer base of 1,800 customers, there was a risk of losing up to £100,000 of revenue in year one as a result of the increased costs and lost income from the service-level agreement (SLA) arrangements. However, a dedicated crew and vehicle would have the capacity to generate higher income over time, as well as support environmental benefits through increased recycling rates for Redditch. There would also be carbon reduction benefits in composting garden waste than if it were collected within the residual waste bin (grey), although this would be offset by an increase in emissions arising from an additional Refuse Vehicle operating every other week in comparison with the current service.


Following the presentation by the Officer, a discussion took place with the following areas considered by Members:


·       Potential number of collections – It was highlighted that at Bromsgrove on average 29,000 households had their garden waste collected, but the initial capacity of the single crew to be initially deployed at Redditch would be 6,000.

·       Waiting list for garden collection services – It was noted that the Council no longer kept a waiting list of residents who requested a garden waste service. It was noted that, if approved, a communication campaign would be undertaken to encourage residents to use the service. It was expected that this would be undertaken through social media, local newspapers advertisements, and possibly banners displayed on existing fleet vehicles promoting the service.

·       Proposed charges and comparison with other authorities – The Council’s proposed fee for Garden Waste as in the recommendation was £60 per year plus a one-off set up fee of £20 for new customers. It was noted that nationally annual charges ranged from £35 to £90.

·       It was noted that in the winter period when the staff working on garden waste, they would be encouraged to either book leave during the period or support staff across the rest of the fleet.

·       Officers reported that forecasts of financial performance and customer take-up of the service were arrived at through conversations with other authorities on their levels of take-up as well as looking at the Council’s take up when the garden waste service was first launched. It was noted that 1800 capacity of the then system was reached within the first year.

·       Support for residents who cannot afford the service – Officers reported that the set up of an administrative system to support specific offering concessionary service would be difficult to implement due to data protection requirements. It was reported that most authorities did not offer a concessionary garden waste service and that residents could also dispose of the waste by accessing the tip sites in the Borough. However, once the service started delivering profit the viability of this option would be investigated. Furthermore, residents were encouraged to tell the Council if unable to afford the service when the public consultation on this is launched as it would enable the Council to estimate the demand for a subsidised service.

·       Implementing a dedicated RBC Garden Waste Service would impact on the current SLA with Bromsgrove District Council and require the current arrangements to be cancelled. However, there would be no penalties (including financial) for the Council for withdrawing the SLA.

·       Refuse Vehicle Rental Costs and Costs of the New Refuse Vehicle – It was reported that a rental of a refuse vehicle from February 2024 would cost an estimated £1000 to £1100 per week. The new refuse vehicle would cost £210,000 in the 2025/26 capital budget as per recommendation three.

·       Transition of the Council’s Refuse Vehicles from diesel to HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) - It was noted that the Council’s existing diesel refuse vehicles were EURO 6 vehicles which meant they were compatible to run on HVO with relatively minor adjustments. This would also be the case with the new refuse vehicle. It was reported that consideration was given to electric and hydrogen-powered refuse collection vehicles but these were significantly more expensive at around £400,000 (electric) and over £800,000 (hydrogen-powered) respectively.


The recommendations contained in the report submitted were endorsed by the Committee as follows:




1)    The Executive Committee resolve that subject to approval of recommendations 2 – 4 below, to agree the creation of a dedicated Garden Waste Collection Service for Redditch Borough Council;


And the Executive Committee to Recommend to the Council:


2)    An increase to the cost on Fees and Charges for Garden Waste to £60 per year, whilst maintaining the existing one-off set up fee of £20 for new customers;


3)    Inclusion of the following Capital and Revenue expenses in the Medium Term Financial Plan:


Capital Investment


2025/26 & Inclusion on Fleet Replacement Schedule



Revenue Investment








2026/27 Onwards



4)    Adjust the Medium Term Financial Plan to reflect the following financial pressures:








Supporting documents: