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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

Coronavirus: Garden waste - frequently asked questions

Why have you stopped the Garden Waste service?

We’ve suspended the Garden Waste service because we do not have the overall crew numbers to provide it at this time when members of our workforce are self-isolating, have underlying medical conditions, are caring for vulnerable dependents or have children to look after at home.

The employees we do still have coming to work have been moved to cover absence in critical services that we, by law, must provide – i.e. rubbish, food waste and recycling collections.

What am I supposed to do with this garden waste now you’ve closed the recycling centres?

If you cannot home compost, please keep your garden waste to one side until services return to normal. If stored in bags, keep them unsealed to improve air circulation which can help to  reduce odours. Garden waste should not attract vermin if it does not contain food waste, although it would help to keep the waste off the floor where possible.

Why don’t you just stop all customers’ Direct Debits until the garden waste service resumes?

While we accept this is a reasonable question, the practicalities are complicated due to the way banks process Direct Debits and their rules around informing customers.

For example, before the current pandemic developed, we had already written to 29,000 Garden Waste service customers to state we’re going to debit their accounts. Under Direct Debit rules, if we cancel this instruction, we would have to write to all these customers again to inform them of the cancellation. Then we would need to write to everyone again to organise new Direct Debits when the service resumes.

We would also need to separate those who wanted to cancel their Direct Debit from those who were content to just pay the subscription now as they have already gone through the process, rather than forcing the latter group to effectively re-subscribe to a service they didn’t request to cancel.

And then there’s the question of the 15,000 customers who have already paid by methods other than Direct Debit. To ensure everyone is treated equally, we’d technically have to issue 15,000 refunds and then re-subscribe everyone when the service resumed.

All this activity would require a huge amount of resource at a time when administrative teams are busy supporting front-line services while dealing with their own resource challenges.

We don’t expect our customers to lose out financially and we will work out how subscribers are compensated for collections they did not receive during this disruption period and contact them directly when services eventually return to normal.

Will I get a refund for missed garden waste collections?

We’re already looking at how we will compensate Garden Waste service subscribers once things return to normal. This may mean extending the current subscription period, reducing next year’s annual charges, or refunding the equivalent amount for any missed collections.

Once things start to return to normal, we will contact all our customers directly to let them know what we’re planning to do to compensate them.

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