Residents in the Melton borough pay the highest charge in the East Midlands to have their garden waste collected, according to the findings of new study.
Householders are currently charged £57 a year for the fortnightly collections in a region where around a third of local authorities collect it free of charge.
The wide-ranging study into green waste has been carried out by the BBC at a time when the government is consulting on whether households in England should receive free garden waste collections.
The analysis has found that some councils in England are charging almost £100 for the service, which critics say is effectively a quiet green-garden tax which goes against the positive environmental initiatives currently being promoted.
The BBC finding for the East Midlands reveal that the average annual charge for green collections is £24 and that Melton residents are charged well over twice as much as this figure.
In response to the study, a spokeswoman for Melton Borough Council told the Melton Times: “The council recognises that composting is the most environmentally sustainable way to dispose of green waste but also that this is not always a suitable option for some households.
“For those who do wish to have their green waste collected we direct them to the Green Waste Club which is a service provided by Biffa; our waste collection contractor.
“The charge takes into consideration the collection costs associated with collecting from dispersed rural communities and with over 8,500 customers, continues to represent good value for money at under £2.30 per collection.
“The income received supports the wider service contract and has enabled the council to maintain a high quality and comprehensive service offer despite the challenges faced by local government.”
The Government says it believes that providing a regular kerbside collection service is the best way to increase recycling of garden waste.
It has asked for opinions on the possibility of all councils in England providing the service free of charge from 2023.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said if free garden waste collections became mandatory then ‘the government will have to pay the full new burden’s cost’.
Councillor David Renard, environment spokesman for the LGA, said: “Ultimately garden waste collection has to be paid for by someone.
“It’s only fair that those households which have gardens and generate the waste pay for the service.”
The collection of garden waste is not currently a statutory service, and the government says that charging for collections is ‘at the discretion of local authorities’.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) this year carried out a consultation on consistency in household and business recycling collections in England.
In the consultation, it said the transition cost of introducing a free garden waste collection service would be £229million over seven years.
Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the Royal Horticultural Society, offers some advice for residents interested in composting at home:
“Happily, home composting is incredibly simple.
“By composting, gardeners are protecting the environment in a very large way. All of the biological matter, which includes food, shouldn’t be going to landfill. “In a country like Britain where there are 27 million gardens, there’s an awful lot of lawn mowings which is not something which should be added to landfill - there’s an excellent use for them in the garden.
“If a council doesn’t collect it, the best way to deal with it is to dig a deep hole and bury weeds. Put them in a bowl of water and it will turn into a rotten mess, then bury that under a tree or a hedge and it will feed the plants.
“As for food waste in the kitchen, fruit and vegetables are not a problem and can all go in the compost bin.”
BBC findings on garden waste collections:
***Of the 368 local authorities in the UK which offer regular kerbside collections of domestic garden waste, 217 (59 per cent) charge annually.
***The annual charge for the collection service ranges from £22 to £96. The average annual charge is £31.
***11 local authorities do not provide a garden waste collection service
***100 local authorities (27 per cent) provide a regular collection service for free
***72 out of 318 (23 per cent) local authorities provide a regular kerbside garden waste collection for free
***Of the 311 local authorities which do offer regular kerbside garden waste collections: 258 collect fortnightly (83 per cent) and 29 collect weekly (9 per cent)
***Of 38 local authorities, 13 (34 per cent) do not have an annual charge
***The average annual charge is £24
***The highest annual charge is from Melton in Leicestershire at £57
Charges in neighbouring authorities:
North West Leics £0
Leicester City 46
Top five annual fees for green collections:
Harlow (Essex) £96
Adur (West Sussex) £85
Worthing (West Sussex) £85
Lewisham (Inner London) £80
Malvern Hills (Worcestershire) £78