Scores of brown bins sent to recycling over Midlothian’s new £35 garden waste charge

Scores of unused brown bins have been piled up at a recycling centre after thousands of residents refused to sign up to a new paid-for garden waste service.

Midlothian council's Brown Bin Mountain

Midlothian Council introduced the annual £35 charge for collecting garden waste last month. But rows of neglected brown bins have been spotted lined up at the Stobhill Recycling Centre in Newtongrange - as the council is forced to dismantle the unwanted containers.

After being rolled out last month, residents in Midlothian have to pay a £35 charge for the fortnightly charge, with garden waste collected until the middle of November.

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The council said the “difficult decision” to introduce the charge was made due to the falling amount of funding local authorities are receiving from the Scottish Government. If the charge hadn’t been introduced, it was feared that the garden waste collection service may have been stopped altogether.

A council spokesman said: “Over 15,000 households have signed up to the council’s garden waste service to date, with collections now well underway.

“Most eligible households have either signed up to the service, or kept their brown bin and organised their own disposal. A small proportion, around 3,500 households, have asked to return their brown bin. The council is in the process of collecting these at the moment.

“Any unwanted brown bins are being broken down and recycled as appropriate. The metal spindles from the wheels are recycled at our Stobhill depot and the bin itself is recycled by a company that pays the council for the bins.

“Residents can still sign up for the service online if they would like to receive collections. Residents who do not want to pay for the service can take their garden waste to a recycling centre for free disposal, or compost at home.”

Those who have signed up for the service in Midlothian have been sent a sticker to place on their brown bins in order for refuse workers to know who has paid for the service.

When plans were tabled last year to introduce the service in Midlothian, fears were raised that the fee could result in residents giving up their brown bins and instead hiding garden waste in among household waste in black bins. To tackle the threat, the council is investigating reducing the size of the black waste bins to make it easier to catch offenders.

Those residents signing up for the service part way through the term will be charged the full £35. Up to six brown bins can be emptied per property and the annual £35 charge applies for each bin.

Residents who do not want to pay for the service can take their garden waste to a recycling centre for free disposal, or compost at home.

The City of Edinburgh Council said that any brown bins it collects are cleaned up and made ready to be reused and issued to new subscribers of the scheme.

Around 2,000 bins were collected by the city council. Any that could not be cleaned and made reusable, thought to be around 400, were sent to a specialist recycler. Most collected bins have already been or will be reissued to subscribers.