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Garden Waste Suspension - FAQs

Answers to some commonly asked questions about the suspension of garden waste collections in the South Hams.

Why have you suspended collections?

As the national shortage of LGV and HGV drivers continues, we have had to make the tough decision to prioritise vital recycling and refuse collections at the expense of garden waste collections. Garden waste collections are not a statutory service. Suspending garden waste collections will allow staff to be redeployed to support vital rubbish and recycling services. It also helps to keep disruption across other services to a minimum.


Will you be collecting Christmas trees in January 2022?

Unfortunately due to the suspension of the garden waste service in South Hams, we are unable to collect Christmas trees this year.

Christmas trees can be taken to any of the recycling centres in the South Hams free of charge. Please use the button below to find your nearest centre:

Find your nearest recycling centre

Have you thought about doing your bit for Climate Change and buying a different type of Christmas tree? Think about alternatives to a fresh tree, perhaps buying a potted one or a sustainable driftwood tree? That way you can enjoy your tree year after year.


What should I do with my full garden waste bin throughout the winter?

You must not put garden waste in the grey wheelie bin. Instead, please try one of the options below:

  • Compost your garden waste -here are some compost tips. Please don't put garden waste in your refuse bin.
  • Use the Recycling Centres: All three recycling centres located in South Hams, operated by Devon County Council, take garden waste. Full details, including opening hours, here.
  • Use a licensed waste collector who will responsibly take away your garden or household waste items. As a resident, please check the business holds a waste carriers licence, which they will provide on request.

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.


Private waste collectors - Duty of care

We are aware that there are independent companies coming forward to take garden waste away for people who may be unable to take to the Recycling centres themselves. These are not contracted through South Hams District Council and we strongly suggest checking that any company you use has a registered waste carriers licence before handing over your waste. This is the householder's responsibility to check these details first.

You can check if they are registered by searching for their details on the Environment Agency's Register of waste carriers, brokers and dealers.

Any bona fide waste carrier will show you a certificate or authorisation card proving they are a registered carrier. 

We recommend that you do not engage with anyone who comes knocking on your door for a cash deal to take away your waste.

If you do, we advise that you to get a receipt and make a note of the registration number of the vehicle taking your waste.

Remember, if you transfer waste to an unauthorised waste carrier and the waste is then fly tipped, you may then be liable to prosecution. 


Why can't  we just treat it like the refuse bins and empty the garden waste brown bins at the same time?

Putting these types of waste together would mean the vehicles would fill up more quickly and slow down the rounds, causing the vehicle to tip the loads more frequently leading to more incomplete rounds.

If garden waste is put in the refuse wheelie bin, it will be sent to an energy from waste facility where it will be burnt and the nutrients will be lost. Garden waste holds valuable nutrients which should be returned to the soil in any way possible and it would not be recycled if it is sent to the incinerator.


Why can you not provide a final one-off collection?

We would like to and we have explored all options to try to accommodate this. However, we would need a considerable number of additional drivers and loaders to collect from over 40,000 households in the South Hams. Without these additional drivers and loaders, a one-off collection would cause significant disruption to the refuse, recycling and clinical waste collections. Drivers and loaders are in extremely short supply and this just is not possible on the scale needed.

Our staff have been working closely with FCC Environment to find a way to make a one-off collection possible to empty full garden bins. This has included trying to find new drivers for this purpose, other local authorities to help and other waste companies to cover this task. Unfortunately, none of these have been successful.


Can the Council suspend a week of refuse bin collection or recycling collection to carry out a final brown bin collection?

No. We have explored all options and this would lead to further disruptions to the collections service. 


Will residents get a Council Tax refund because of the service suspension?

Unfortunately we are not able to offer a refund of your Council Tax. Council Tax is a way of funding councils, and other statutory agencies, for the varied services they provide. Waste collections are only one of the many services we provide as a District Council. It is not the same as having a contract for one specific service.

We continue to prioritise the services which we have a statutory duty to provide, such as refuse and recycling collections. Garden waste is a non-statutory service which has been provided at the Council's discretion.

To find out more about your Council Tax and how is it used, please see How is my Council Tax spent.


What are we doing to make arrangements to restart the garden waste service in the spring?

The national driver shortage is now beginning to impact all aspects of our lives, including major retailers and supermarkets. FCC Environment advise that they currently have 1 in 4 driver roles vacant. This continues to affect refuse and recycling collections.

This situation is being closely monitored and our contractors are recruiting new drivers, but there are delays in providing licences and new drivers' tests. This is estimated to improve in the next six months and they are hopeful they can fill these vacancies.


Will we be advised when the service is to restart?

We will notify all residents when further information is available.

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