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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 street-level properties. Collecting this waste separately helps reduce the impact it would otherwise have on the environment. 

There is a subscription fee of £80 per year for the weekly collection of garden waste. Food waste collections are provided with no charge made at all. 

Why did the council introduce charges for collecting my garden waste?

Not everyone produces garden waste, and not all households want a weekly garden waste collection service. We think it's fairer that only those using the service contribute towards the cost of providing it. As a result, from June 2019, we have introduced a small charge for having garden waste collected. 

By reducing the overall cost of providing waste services, this charge helps us protect other essential services we deliver across the borough.

How much does it cost?

The full annual fee is £80 for a 12-month subscription. Subscriptions run until the end of March each year. Existing subscribers to the service will need to re-subscribe to continue receiving the service after 1 April 2024, renewals should be available from the start of March 2024.

Why has the garden waste subscription charge changed?

We have needed to increase the cost of weekly garden waste collections from £60 to £80 a year for the 2024 to 2025 year.  This reflects the increased cost of providing services and the difficult financial choices that all local councils face in providing services with limited funding. However, even with the increase, this weekly service still offers excellent value for money for a weekly collection service for garden waste.

How do I know if I am eligible for the garden waste service?

Please visit our subscription page. If you live in a flat or communal property and want to receive the garden waste service, visit our garden waste for flats and estates page.

Can I pay for more than one year when I subscribe?

The garden waste service is a yearly service and residents should pay for collections only for the number of bins required for the given year (for example, if you'd like one bin collected, select subscribe for one bin collections).

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

We have now stopped 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. If you have a brown bin that you no longer need please contact us to request its removal.

Why is the council asking me to put out food and garden waste separately?

We are expecting the law will change in the near future, and it will become a legal requirement to collect and treat food waste and garden waste separately. We're starting to separate our services for these materials now, so they are ready for the change.

What if my garden waste bin/caddy has been stolen or lost?

If your brown garden waste bin or caddy is stolen or lost then you can order replacements.

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

We now only collect garden waste in the brown garden waste bins supplied by the council, or in the paper garden waste sacks supplied by the council. Paper Sacks are available on our website for £40 per 20 sacks as of 1 April 2024. Paper sacks are no longer available in libraries. 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. When you have full bags of garden waste you need us to collect, you can request a collection.

How frequent are collections?

Collections are weekly.

My collection was missed what should I do?

If your garden waste has not been collected on the date when it was due to be cleared, you can report a missed collection using the online form.  You can check the collection dates lookup to see when your garden waste collections are due.

Collections occur from Monday to Friday (some weekend days may be worked around the Christmas period) from 6am to 4pm. Please wait until after 4pm on your collection day to report a missed collection.

How can I avoid a missed collection in the future?

To avoid your collection being missed, make sure you:

  • put your rubbish in your bin the night before your collection; only waste stored inside the bin, or garden waste in Southwark Council garden waste bags that are placed alongside your bin can be collected
  • present your garden waste at the edge of the property, where it can be easily reached by the crew at the curtilage/pavement.
  • ensure the items placed in the bin are on the accepted green waste types list

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 is collected, without additional charge, on a weekly basis. Residents need to present their garden waste and food waste for collection in separate containers. A separate container is provided free of charge for food waste; you can order a food waste container if needed. When ordering, you'll also receive a smaller kitchen caddy for storing your food waste indoors before putting it out for collection. 

Can I put garden waste in my green rubbish bin?

No. Only unrecyclable wastes 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 may 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 or within Southwark council garden waste sacks booked for an unscheduled collection.

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/renew a garden waste service subscription?

You can sign up and pay for a subscription to the garden waste service on our dedicated payment page.

Can I pay for more than one year of garden waste subscriptions in one go?

No, this is not available. You can subscribe to multiple bins in one year but not multiple years.

Can I pay for the subscription by Direct Debit?

No, this is not available. You can subscribe using the payment methods displayed on our subscription page.

How long does the subscription last for?

Subscriptions run from April until the end of March of the following year for a fixed fee of £0. You can subscribe to the service at any point in the year at this price but the subscription will only last until 31 March. After 31 March, you'll need to renew for another year if you want to continue using the service.

If you need to use the service, you should sign up as soon as possible to get the best value for the annual fee charged.    

How can I pay for the garden waste service?

You'll be able to sign up and pay for your subscription. 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 looking into options for providing Direct Debit schemes in the future, but this will take some further development. However, we have a secure, convenient and easy to use payment system within our website where you can make payments for this service at any time.

Are there any concessions on the garden waste service?

We only provide free garden waste collections to non-profit groups that provide public amenities, such as community gardens that are freely open to the public, such as those in parks. Please note, this does not include groups gardening on housing estates or in allotments that are for the benefit of local residents or members only. The council has kept the price as low as possible in order to keep this service affordable. Organisations that think they qualify should contact the council for a decision. For qualifying organisations, a free service will start after this decision has been communicated to them.

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, and one of our staff will be happy to help you sign up for the service. Alternatively, use one of the BT Street Hubs across the borough.

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 an adhesive collection sticker to attach to your garden waste bin. 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 that the bin has 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. Unsubscribed bins that do not have stickers attached will be removed by the council.

I have not received my sticker what should I do?

If you haven’t received your sticker please get in contact with us so that we can look into this for you and assess why there may be an issue with this.

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're 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 request more than one food waste bin?

You can put out more than one food waste boxes for collection if you need to. If you're producing a lot of food waste, you may want to consider how to waste less and minimise the food waste you produce.

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, so one of you needs to make sure that the subscription is paid for.

Do I get a new bin?

No. Collections are 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.

Do I own my brown bin if I sign up?

No. As with all containers provided to you for waste collection, the bins remain the property of the council. You pay the fee for the collection service during the year, not for the container.

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 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 to the standard that you need. If your bin becomes damaged, there's no charge for replacement.

My bin is broken what should I do?

If your bin breaks or is lost during the course of collections, use our online form so that we can arrange for the delivery of a replacement.

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 can purchase a pack of 20 garden waste bags. 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 buy a compost bin for your garden, which is available at a subsidised rate via our compost at the home page.

I have received an error message when going through the website what should I do?

In the first instance please try again later, this may be a short-term problem such as a poor internet connection. If an error continues to appear, contact us so that we can diagnose this.

I am a business can I subscribe to the garden waste service?

Currently, We do not supply this service to businesses.

I am a Managing Agent/ Property Manager can I pay for the subscription charge by Invoice?

We accept payment by invoice for subscriptions that are four subscriptions or more. Subscriptions under four need to pay for subscriptions via the online form.

Page last updated: 14 March 2024


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