Shropshire residents could be forced to pay for green bin collections in fight to cut £33m waste bill
Salopians could be made to pay for green bin collections as Shropshire Council looks to get a handle on its £33 million a year waste bill.
Government statistics on waste revealed the council ditched more than half a ton of waste per head in 2020/21 - the second highest of any local authority in the country.
Now the authority is looking at launching a waste-minimisation strategy, with initiatives including community composting, up-cycling workshops, swap shops and food redistribution.
But, the potential measure which ignited the most debate during the council's Place Overview Committee meeting was charging for garden waste collections.
Councillor David Vasmer, Lib Dem representative for Underdale in Shrewsbury, said: "I am very concerned. I do not think that's the way to go forward. We should encourage people to do more composting. We have immense problems with fly-tipping. I think it would increase the risk of people fly-tipping their waste."
He proposed excluding the option of charging for garden waste.
However, Julian Dean, Green councillor for Porthill in Shrewsbury, disagreed.
He said: "The evidence seems to suggest that charging does reduce waste," and added that waste "needs to be paid for".
"I think there is a case for charging, so I won't be supporting this [Councillor Vasmer's suggestion]."
As part of the strategy, the council wants to hire two officers to take on responsibility for reducing waste and assessing how the waste budget can be managed. The hires would cost the authority a combined £92,000.
Steve Smith, the council's assistant director for infrastructure, said in his report that in 2022/23 each tonne diverted from the residual waste stream processed at the Battlefield ERF would bring a £90 a tonne benefit to the council from the sale of the capacity to third parties, and a reduction in the payment to Veolia. If the waste is diverted from landfill, that benefit increases to £123 per tonne. A 2,000-tonne reduction - if split 95% ERF and 5% landfill - would be worth £183,000 at current prices to the council.
Mr Smith did not set targets for reducing the £33m cost to the council, given the rising population and costs.
The committee unanimously voted to support the development of a waste-minimisation strategy and to support progress towards the creation of a team to deliver it, and ensure the strategy is regularly reviewed to reflect national good practice and local opportunities. However, they will also submit a report to cabinet raising concerns.