What a waste! £9m buried in ground annually in Luton through landfill tax
But 22,000 households signed up to green waste collection charge, bringing in £862,000
Luton residents are "burying £9m in the ground" annually through landfill tax, which could be reduced through more recycling, a meeting heard.
Saving the sum could lower council tax rises and potentially avoid the need for service cuts, the borough council's overview and scrutiny board was told on November 22.
Service manager for street scene Alex Greene updated councillors on the town's garden waste collection service, saying: "We began in March this year hitting the ground running.
"We were expecting about 7,500 subscriptions, but we actually had more than 22,000.
"This service has done extremely well over the year prioritising the service and making sure it happens. We've not had to suspend a single service.
"The total income is £862,000. The total cost of the service is £841,000."
Labour Biscot councillor Haji Abid told the board residents ask him what their council tax is spent on.
Labour Challney councillor Tom Shaw said: "What he should do is encourage everyone in his ward to recycle better and recycle more, because we wouldn't have to put the council tax up if less went to the tip .
"You're still burying £9m a year in the ground with this council. By getting everyone to recycle, if we can save that money being buried in the ground on landfill tax, all the council will be better off and we could avoid loads of cuts.
"We can't carry on the way we have done for the last 50 years just sending stuff up to the tip, burying it and paying the government £108 a tonne in landfill taxes.
"Every tonne we don't take to the tip will give this local authority £108 saving. That's got to be our target, so councillor Abid if you want someone to talk to your council taxpayers about how to save money I'd be quite happy to do it."
Councillor Shaw, who's the portfolio holder for housing, waste and climate change, said: "We put a full [garden waste] service back into the town, which people wanted, at £40 annually.
"It's one of the cheapest costs for garden waste service in the country and we made it a success.
"A lot of councils had to cut services because of a lack of drivers. We gave first-time supplement to HGV drivers and managed to keep hold of most of them.
"That's had to be put into this year's account, but we've not had to put up the annual cost any further because of the £20,000 surplus.
"We got some extra wagons, which are more envorinmentally friendly. Our fuel costs are up by 8p a litre. Everything's gone up, but we've managed to keep this price the same as it was last year.
"Hopefully more people sign up because it's been such a great success. That's a win, win for everyone in Luton."
Liberal Democrat Sundon Park councillor Anna Pedersen, who chairs the board, asked what residents should do if they want their unused brown garden waste bins taken away.
Mr Greene replied: "The decision was made not to take bins away during the first year based on the experience of other councils.
"They just have to ring the call centre and we'll remove the bin, starting in January."
Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks explained: "By introducing the charge you're covering the cost of a service you were delivering already.
"The council is half a million pounds better off and can continue providing a valuable service."
The board agreed to support the continued offer of an annual garden waste subscription service at £40 during 2022.
Could you recycle more? Did you opt to pay the green waste charge? Email views to [email protected]