Somerset plans to up HWRC charges as inflation bites

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) is considering plans to up charges at household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) in the face of “inflationary pressures”.

The Priorswood HWRC in Taunton is one of Somerset's 16 sites

At a board meeting on 23 September, the SWP proposed raising the cost of disposing of certain items including asbestos, plasterboard, gas bottles, soil and hardcore, and tyres at the county’s 16 HWRCs from April 2023.

The meeting also discussed increasing the fees charged for the collection of garden and bulky waste from the kerbside.

In a report which went before the board meeting, Colin Mercer, the SWP’s contracts manager, said: “The cost of living crisis, high inflation and financial pressures on Somerset council are clearly significant factors in determining charges.”

Mr Mercer said there was a danger that “costs will not cover provision of the service” – due, for example, to “contractual inflation indices” – and increase the burden on the council taxpayer if the SWP did not review fees and charges.

However, he warned that, if charges were set too high, they could lead to “undesired behaviour” such as fly-tipping.

The increases will see the cost of disposing of an unrimmed tyre rise from £4.10 to £4.40 and of a sheet of plasterboard from £4.70 to £5.10 from next April, amongst other changes.

The SWP announced Biffa was to take over the management of Somerset’s HWRCs from Viridor last August (see letsrecycle.com story). Under the contract, any increase in fees and charges at the HWRCs are limited to 8.18%.

Collections

Suez took over a separate kerbside collections contract worth £210 million for the SWP in 2020 (see letsrecycle.com story). There are no restrictions to increases in charges for garden or bulky waste under this contract.

The SWP manages waste and recycling services for all local authorities in Somerset (picture: Somerset Waste Partnership)

Mr Mercer said the SWP had frozen charges last year but, based on the pressures Somerset faced, he believed it would be “prudent” to increase collection costs by 11%, in line with estimated inflation.

Garden waste collections for those with a single green bin will rise from £57.20 a year to £63.50 from next April. Some residents opt to buy a roll of 10 garden waste sacks instead, which they can also put out at the kerbside. For these residents, the price of a roll will increase from £15.50 to £17.20.

For bulky waste, the SWP will charge £68.60 rather than £61.80 for the collection of one to three items from April. It will charge £17.20 rather than £15.50 per additional item, up to five in total.

For residents looking to dispose of asbestos, the SWP will increase the cost of collecting 16 sheets or a tonne from £259.20 to £280.40.

Somerset

Formed in 2007, the SWP manages a network of recycling centres and community recycling sites throughout Somerset, alongside holding responsibility for kerbside collections of recycling and residual waste.

Representing an estimated population of more than 560,000, the SWP had a household waste recycling rate of 52.4% in the 2020/21 financial year.

From April 2023, a single unitary authority, Somerset council, will replace Somerset county council and the county’s four district councils in Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West & Taunton, and South Somerset.

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