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Garden Waste Suspended Until Spring 2022

To avoid further significant disruption to South Hams District Council's refuse and recycling service, the Executive Committee have today reluctantly agreed to continue the suspension of the garden waste collections until spring 2022.

Temporary Garden Waste suspension - green background with brown bin

Council officers have explored a wide range of options to find possible ways to restore the garden waste service to all residents. Unfortunately, due to driver shortages, the Council and their contractor, FCC Environment, are unable to reinstate the service until Spring 2022. Otherwise, this could significantly impact the waste, recycling and clinical collections that the Council legally has to provide.

Officers have also approached other organisations to help with a one-off collection ahead of the winter. Unfortunately this has not been possible because of the operational challenges others are also facing, as well as the national driver shortages.

The Council is extremely regretful that the suspension at short notice caused disruption for their residents who may have had outstanding green waste to be collected. A shortage of drivers in August due to the national HGV driver issues and staff sickness meant the Council, together with FCC Environment, had to make the tough decision to prioritise the general refuse and recycling and clinical collections.

South Hams is not alone with experiencing significant delays due to the HGV driver shortages, experienced both nationally and across all business sectors. Locally, there have been challenges, which were highlighted by FCC Environment to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 13 October.

FCC Environment explained that they currently have 27% of unfilled HGV/LGV vacancies, which continue to affect refuse and recycling collections. Council officers are looking at greener ways to support residents to recycle their garden waste and will report back to Executive in December.

South Hams District Council remains the only council in Devon to provide a garden waste service that is completely free of charge. The collection of garden waste is a non-statutory service, which means it is not one that the Council has to provide.

Cllr Keith Baldry, Executive Member for Environment, said:"We haven't had a great set of options available to choose from, and we have chosen the best of the group.

"I greatly regret that we have to suspend the garden waste service but the alternatives available would mean further disruption for our communities with impacts to their waste and recycling collections, which we're doing our very best to improve upon.

"Officers have worked tirelessly, doing everything in their power to try to find a resolution and I'd like to thank and congratulate them for their hard work. They've been contacting neighbouring local authorities and private waste companies to see if they can provide us with help to collect a one-off garden waste collection. Unfortunately, all came back with a resounding no, due to their own driver shortages and backlogs.

"I regret that we did not have time to write to all residents in August when we first suspended our service. We learnt from our mistake and this time, we will be writing a letter to every resident explaining the situation and offering our apologies. 

"I'd like to thank you, our residents, for your continued patience, we know it has been difficult, but please bear with us. I am proud of the relatively high recycling rates in South Hams and I want them to get better, not worse. In the meantime, please continue to home compost or take your garden waste to recycling centres."

So, how do you recycle your green waste?

  • Compost your garden waste - here are some tips about how to compost. Please don't put garden waste in your refuse bin.
  • Use recycle centres - All three recycling centres located in the South Hams are operated by Devon County Council and take garden waste. Full details, including opening hours, can be found here.
  • Use a licensed waste collector who will responsibly take away your garden, or household, waste items. Please check first with the Environment Agency to see if they are registered: Waste Carriers - Check if they are registered here.

Please do not burn your garden waste. The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service firmly advises against having bonfires, given the risks of fires spreading, the likely nuisance for neighbours and the potential diversion of emergency services. You can find out more here: Safety In The Home - Bonfires

You can find out more from the Executive meeting here:  All about the Executive, agendas and reports.

Issued: 14 October 2021

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