Postcode lottery of bulky waste collection charges revealed

Unwanted items such as washing machines and fridge-freezers can be collected as bulky waste
Unwanted items such as washing machines and fridge-freezers can be collected as bulky waste

The postcode lottery facing residents wishing to dispose of bulky household items has been revealed.

An investigation by the BBC Shared Data Unit has shown the large variations in how much people are asked to pay to have goods such as washing machines, fridge-freezers, sofas and televisions removed.

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There are different arrangements around the country, with 15 of the 326 councils in England taking bulky waste for free.

But other local authorities charge for them to be removed.

The most expensive council by average cost per item was Waverley, in Surrey, where it costs £44.

Residents in Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, face the highest bill for first collections of £75, but up to three items can be taken.

The average cost of collections was highest in the South East at £16.60, compared to £7.50 in the North West and £5,40 in the North East.

Despite financial pressures on councils, some are starting to look at reintroducing free collections in a bid to tackle fly tipping.

But this does not appear to be an issue in Wigan, where council bosses say reports of fly tipping have dropped.

Residents can pay £10.80 for one collection of up to three bulky waste items per property in a year. Up to two extra items can be removed for £5.40 each.

Further collections during that year will cost £85.50 each.

The collections can be booked via Wigan Council’s website, where there is information about what can and cannot be collected.

The website includes links to a host of charities which pick up items for free and find a new home for them.

Paul Barton, the council’s director for environment, said: “We are committed to supporting residents to dispose of their waste correctly by making use of council or charity services.

“Through The Deal and by working with residents to encourage them to recycle right, we are pleased to say that reports of fly tipping across the borough have reduced by 13 per cent.

“Between January and December 2018, we successfully completed all 4,574 requests for bulky waste collections borough-wide.

“In order to help residents dispose of their larger items, we offer a subsidised fee for the first collection. The price increases for a second collection within a 12-month period to fall in line with other commercial collections.

“However, should residents not be in a position to pay to have their large items removed, we do promote the services of local charities who can also come and collect the items.

“We would like to thank residents for continuing to dispose of their waste correctly and encourage those with questions regarding what type of items can be collected through the bulky waste collection service to visit our website.”

A Local Government Association spokesman said: “Some councils were able to provide free garden and bulky waste services when they were first introduced but are now having to charge to reflect the growing cost of providing a collection service.

“Councils in England face an overall funding gap of £3.2 billion in 2019-20.

“Money from garden and bulky waste collection charges goes back into maintaining the service.”

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “It is up to local authorities to set their priorities for the collection of waste and recycling on a local level - based on the needs of their local communities and within the national waste policy.

“Local authorities are able to charge what they see fit for the collection and disposal of ‘bulky waste’, but we expect them to consult on any charges with local residents.”