Higher waste charges on the way across Somerset recycling centres

By Daniel Mumby - Local Democracy Reporter

28th Sep 2022 | Local News

Dulcote Recycling Centre (Photo: Google Street View)
Dulcote Recycling Centre (Photo: Google Street View)

Somerset residents will face higher charges at the county's recycling centres in the new year as high inflation continues to bite.

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) will be raising the cost of disposing of certain items at its 16 household waste recycling centres, in some cases by up to 11 per cent.

The SWP will also raise the fees it charges for garden waste collections and for the collection of bulky items at the kerbside, with the new prices taking effect from April 1, 2023.

Waste bosses have said that the changes are necessary in light of high inflation, the cost of living crisis and the financial pressures facing Somerset County Council as it prepares to transition into the new unitary authority.

Details of the planned new fees and charges were published ahead of a meeting of the Somerset waste board in Taunton on Friday morning (September 23).

The recycling centres are operated by Biffa, which took over the management of the facilities from Viridor in September.

Under the Biffa contract, any annual rises in fees and charges are limited to a maximum of 8.18 per cent – while the garden waste and bulky item contracts do not have any such ceiling.

At recycling centres, the charge for disposing of tyres will rise from £4.10 to £4.40 for an unrimmed tyre or from £5.40 to £5.80 for a rimmed tyre – though the cost of disposing of lorry tyres will be around ten times as much as the latter.

There will be similar rises in price for sacks of soil or hardcore, gas bottles, individual sheets of asbestos and sacks of plasterboard.

From April 2023, the price of garden waste collections for those with a green bin will rise from £57.20 to £63.50 a year – a rise of 11 per cent.

For customers opting for ten garden sacks instead, the cost will rise from £28.30 to £31.40 per year.

For bulky waste collections, the SWP will now charge £68.60 for up to the first three items and a further £17.20 for up to a further five items.

Those looking to get rid of asbestos (up to a maximum of 16 sheets or one tonne at any one time) will see the cost rise from £259.20 to £284.20.

Colin Mercer, the SWP's contracts manager, said in his written report to the board: "Last year we froze the prices for these services, but based on the inflationary pressures, we recommend that it would be prudent to increase charges for the collection services by up to 11 per cent.

"We are mindful of balancing the board's previously expressed desire for no subsidy, significant inflationary increases in our costs, and the cost of living crisis.

"An increase below this level will mean this service is being subsidised by other council taxpayers, and create a budgetary pressure where other savings will need to be found to fill the gap created."

Mr Mercer added that the SWP was looking at following the example of other councils in the south west to tackle unauthorised use of the kerbside collection service by businesses, including holiday lets.

He said: "An area we continue to explore is how we clamp down on illegal business use of the household kerbside collection service – for example, by holiday lets, including Airbnb properties.

"Some other authorities (including North Somerset Council and Cornwall Council) have processes in place to identify potential illegal use by businesses and then to offer a charged service instead.

"This work is ongoing and it is not yet clear if the income generated offsets the administration and enforcement costs associated with implementing this."

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