Garden waste collection subscriptions

Southwark Chargeable Garden Waste Service FAQs

What is the garden waste collection service?

The council currently operates a weekly collection service for garden waste and food waste from all of the borough’s kerbside properties. Collecting this waste separately helps reduce the impact it would otherwise have on the environment. 

From 1 June, the council will be introducing a subscription fee of £25 for continued use of the weekly collection of garden waste. Food waste collections will continue to be delivered as they are now with no charge made at all. 

Why is the council introducing charges for collecting my garden waste?

We've seen over time that not everyone who receives garden waste collections is actually making use of the service. We believe that it's fairer that only those using the service contribute towards the running of it. 

As a result, from June this year, we'll be asking for a small annual contribution fee from those residents who want to continue having their garden waste collected. 

This will help us to protect the essential services we deliver across the borough.

How much will it cost?

The full annual fee will be £30 for a 12 month subscription, which runs from April to March. As we're launching the scheme on 1 June this year, the initial subscription to the end of March 2020 will be lower at £25.

What if I don’t subscribe to the garden waste collection service

During June, we'll stop collecting garden waste from brown bins which do not have a valid subscription in place. Non subscribers will be responsible for making their own arrangements for disposing of any garden waste from that point. We'll recover all non subscribed bins after the initial transition period, and new or replacement containers will only be provided to subscribers after that.

Do I have to use a council brown bin to use the garden waste service?

We'll only collect garden waste in the brown garden waste bins supplied by the council, or the paper garden waste sacks supplied by the council. These are available at a cost of £15 for 20 bags on our website. Paper sacks will be no longer be available from libraries. Garden waste will not be collected if it's loose or not properly contained. We cannot collect garden waste in any other container, including plastic bags.

Where can I get Southwark Council Garden Waste Sacks From?

Southwark Council Garden Waste Sacks are available to order here. You can also request a collection of garden waste sacks from this website page.

Will my collection day change?

At the same time as introducing this subscription service, we reviewed our collection rounds. In order to improve the route efficiency, and reduce the environmental impact of our operations, a small number of changes in collections days were made from May 2019. Most people were not affected, but you'll already have been notified if your collections have changed.

How frequent will collections be?

Collections will still be weekly as they are now.

What can I put in my garden waste bin?

The following types of green waste are acceptable for collection:

  • grass cuttings
  • garden weeds
  • plants and flowers
  • leaves and prunings
  • twigs and small branches

Please do not put in:

  • food waste
  • plastic bags or liners
  • flower pots or trays
  • soil or turf
  • stones, gravel or bricks
  • large tree branches
  • fencing, chipboard, MDF or treated wood
  • garden furniture
  • Japanese Knotweed
  • recyclable materials

What about the food waste I currently put in my garden waste bin?

Food waste will continue to be collected, without additional charge, on a weekly basis as it is now. 

As of June, residents will need to present their garden waste and food waste for collection in separate designated containers.

If you require one of the council’s secure food waste boxes for your property, you can order one here. When ordering, you'll also receive a smaller kitchen caddy for storing your food waste indoors before putting it out for collection. Deliveries of containers will be taking place during June, but you can continue to use your existing containers until new ones arrive.

Can I put garden waste in my green rubbish bin?

No. As with our other collections, no recyclable items can be put in your green rubbish bin. If you place any items in there that should go in the blue recycling bin or which should go in a garden waste bin, your rubbish bin will not be collected that week.

Will you collect extra garden waste if I put it next to my brown bin?

No, only garden waste placed within your brown bin with the lid closed will be collected by our crews.

I currently receive assisted collections for my bins; will I still receive this if I sign up to the garden waste service?

Yes, all assisted collections, current or new, will continue as on all our other regular collection services.

How do I sign up for the garden waste service?

From early May, you'll be able to sign up and pay for subscription to the garden waste service via the dedicated web page here.

How long does the subscription last for?

In the first year, the subscription service is for ten months from 1 June 2019 to 31 March 2020 (at the discounted rate of £25).  In following years, the subscription service will run from 1 April to 31 March each year. Please note that whilst you can subscribe to the service at any point in the year, you'll pay the full fee but the subscription will only last until 31 March, at which point you'll need to renew for another year if you want to continue using the service.

If you're intending to use the service, we recommend that you either sign up before 1 June this year or by 1 April in subsequent years to get the full benefit of the subscription.

Can I sign up at any time in the year?

You'll be able to sign up at any time in the year, though please note that any subscription will only last until the end of the following March, and you'll still be charged the full amount. We recommend that you sign up to the service prior to its start date of 1 June this year, and renew prior to 1 April in subsequent years.

How can I pay for the garden waste service?

You'll be able to sign up and pay for your subscription via the dedicated web page here. The payment form accepts all major credit and debit cards. American Express card details will not be accepted.

Why can’t I set up a direct debit?

We're working on setting up a Direct Debit payment system for this service, and hope to introduce it in time for subscription renewals in March/April 2020.

Are there any concessions on the garden waste service?

There will not be any concessions available for the annual subscriptions. The council has ensured that at £25 for the first year, the annual charge for the service is amongst the cheapest anywhere for similar offerings.

I don’t have the ability to get online to arrange a subscription, how can I sign up?

In the first instance, we recommend seeing if there is a family member or friend who can either provide you with access to the internet or who can guide you through the online subscription process. If this is not an option, we invite you to attend your local library, where one of our staff will be happy to help you sign up to the service. Alternatively, use one of the BT inlink service units across the borough which can be located here.

I'm not able to go online to arrange a subscription, how can I sign up?

In the first instance, we recommend seeing if there is a family member or friend who can either provide you with access to the internet or who can guide you through the online subscription process. If this is not an option, your local library has internet access available free of charge, where one of our staff will be happy to help you sign up to the service. Alternatively, use one of the BT inlink service units across the borough which can be located here.

Can I get a refund if I no longer require the garden waste bin during my year’s subscription?

No, the scheme will not be offering refunds for part-use of a year’s subscription. Once your subscription has been activated, we cannot issue a refund.

What happens next after I sign up?

Soon after signing up you'll receive an information pack through your door including a coloured adhesive collection sticker to attach to your garden waste bin on the back underneath the handles. All stickers are expected to have been issued before the end of the transition period in June. All subscribed addresses are logged on collection vehicle computers to ensure you receive collections immediately after you subscribe, but the sticker is used to help confirm to our collection staff and to householders which bins have a valid subscription.

What if I don’t have a collection sticker on my bin?

When you pay for your subscription, your address is added to the collection round and is included on the onboard computer which is fitted to each collection vehicle. You're still scheduled for a weekly garden waste collection once you have paid, even if your sticker hasn’t arrived straight away. We'll be removing unsubscribed bins which do not have stickers attached after the transition period when the new service has being implemented.

Can I request more than one garden waste bin?

You can order additional bins, but please be aware that each extra bin will incur another separate annual subscription fee. We are confident that a brown bin provides enough capacity for most households. If you're producing more than this, you may wish to invest in a compost bin for your garden, or you can take any excess garden waste to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre at Devon Street SE15.

Can I share a garden waste bin with my neighbour?

You can do this if you wish, but please note we'll only collect from households with an active subscription.

Will I get a new bin?

No, collections will still be made from your existing brown garden waste bin. Soon after signing up to the scheme, you'll receive a large adhesive collection sticker which you should place on your bin to identify it as being eligible for collection.

Will I own my brown bin if I sign up?

No. As is currently the case with all regular collection services, the bins provided to you remain the property of the council.

What happens if I move house?

If you move house during your subscription, contact the council and we'll arrange for your subscription to follow you to your new address, provided that the new property is also served by our current garden waste collection service.

Who is responsible for maintenance and cleaning of my bin?

As with all of the other regular collection services we provide, you're responsible for cleaning your bins. If your bin breaks or is lost during the course of collections, contact the council so that we can arrange for delivery of a replacement.

What will happen to my brown garden waste bin if I don’t sign up?

The new subscription service will start on 1 June 2019. After an initial transition period while we implement the new service, we'll be withdrawing all garden waste bins from those properties that have not signed up to the service, and which don't have a collection sticker attached.

What if I want to sign up but don’t have space for a brown wheeled bin?

If your property does not have space for a garden waste bin, but you do still have a garden and wish to dispose of your waste, you will be able to purchase a pack of 20 garden waste bags for £15 here . Unlike collections using the garden waste wheeled bin, you'll need to book a collection, via our website, each time you wish to leave a bag or bags out for collection. The bags will be collected with the next weekly scheduled collection for that area.

You may also take your garden waste to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre at Devon Street SE15. You may also want to invest in a compost bin for your garden, which is available at a subsidised rate via our website.

Page last updated: 14 November 2019