Changes to your bin collections - frequently asked questions

Changes to your bin collections - Frequently asked questions

What happens if I have excess waste that won't fit in my bin? Can I have an additional one?

Depending on your needs, such as the number of people in your household, number of children in nappies in the household or households with occupants that have medical conditions that generate more waste, some households may qualify for extra general waste capacity. Let us know about your needs and we can assess if your household meets our criteria.

As you will have less room in your bin for your rubbish, it is important to think more about what you are wasting and recycle as much as you can now. If you have extra waste left over after all recyclables have been separated out then you can dispose of any additional waste at the local Household Waste and Recycling Centre.

If I do not qualify for a free larger capacity general waste bin, can I purchase one?

Unfortunately it is not possible to buy a larger capacity bin. Only bins provided by Southampton City Council will be collected and emptied and the amount of containers you should have is decided by the council. You are not able to buy bins from a third party as they may not be compatible with the bin lifting equipment on the waste collection vehicles and would pose a risk to our collection crews.

Why can't pots, tubs and trays be recycled?

Recycling collected from households in Southampton is sent to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where the different materials (paper, card, plastic bottles and cans) are sorted before being sent for recycling. At present, the MRF only has the capability to separate plastic bottles, not other types of plastic such as pots, tubs and trays.

Similarly the MRF cannot sort drinks cartons (such as tetra paks) which are a mix of cardboard, plastic and foil. However, this is currently being reviewed by Southampton in partnership with all Hampshire councils, to see if it is financially viable to upgrade the MRF. This could mean that more materials, such as plastic pots, tubs and trays, and drinks cartons, can be collected for recycling.

Residents should await further information from the council before attempting to recycle anything other than paper, card, directories, cans, tins, aerosols and plastic bottles.

How to manage and contain your waste

  • Rinse meat/fish trays, pots and cartons to remove the food residue
  • Use plastic packaging, such as empty frozen vegetable bags, to wrap food waste
  • Make use of used tin foil to wrap food scraps
  • Use lidded plastic jars from peanut butter, chocolate spread and drinking chocolate to contain food with gravy or other liquid
  • Buy cheap store-brand nappy bags to wrap fish and meat scraps, including pet food, and for clumps from the cat litter tray
  • Double bag food waste etc
  • Expel the air from bin bags before tying the top. This will help to prevent accidental tears, as well as making more space in the bin
  • Keep the bin lid closed
  • Should you spill any food waste in the bin, rinse away with boiling water, that will also kill any fly eggs/maggots

My bin will be full of nappies, what can I do?

You may be interested in using washable nappies for your new-born child and you can find further details from the Southampton Real Nappy Network. There is a ‘Southampton Real Nappy Network’ closed Facebook Group which can help with advice and promotes events and where you can also buy and sell nappies.

The network is run by a voluntary group of parents and they can answer any questions you may have on the various types of nappies on offer. Washable nappies come in all shapes and sizes, and can be bottom-shaped and use Velcro, poppers or clips instead of pins. They are environmentally friendly, easy to use, easy to wash and don't take up space in your general waste bin.

You can also use a nappy laundering service if you find the idea of washing nappies a bit daunting.

I am a childminder or a grandparent and have a lot of nappies to dispose of.

If you are a childminder you are in effect running a business from home and would either have to pay for a separate trade waste bin collection or return used nappies for parents to take back and place in their own general waste bins. You would not be entitled to a free larger general waste bin to accommodate this waste.

If you are a grandparent, babysitting or have visiting children in nappies, you are not entitled to a larger general waste bin unless you meet the required criteria.

I'm concerned about possible health issues relating to waste being in bins for two weeks, rather than one.

Over 230 other Local Authorities have already made the change to alternate weekly bin collections. None of them have reported any associated health issues with changing to fortnightly general waste collections. Bag your general waste properly, especially food waste, and ensure that your bin lid remains closed and this will minimise odours, vermin and flies. Any additional waste bags should be taken to the Household Waste and Recycling Centre.

The bins we currently have are designed to remain closed if they are not over-filled. This should contain any odours and reduce the risk of pests getting to the contents.

My general waste bin is often full of my business waste

Businesses have a Duty of Care under the EPA 1990 to manage their waste responsibly. If you are running a business from home you should not be disposing of the waste your business generates in your general waste bin. Southampton City Council provides a trade waste service that businesses can use for a fee to dispose of their waste.

Food waste collection – other Local Authorities offer this, why doesn't Southampton?

Southampton City Council has considered introducing food waste collections in the past but has decided against it, at this point in time, due to operational difficulties resulting from the diverse nature of properties in Southampton and the high cost of delivering the service. We would encourage residents where possible to compost food waste to make an inexpensive soil improver for gardens. Find out about our composters special offer.

Is the council concerned these changes will see an increase in fly-tipping?

We are keen to work with residents to address concerns and provide additional capacity where there is a genuine need, so we should not see an increase in fly-tipping as a result of these collection changes.

We do carefully monitor reports of fly-tipping locally, taking speedy action to clear and investigate reported fly-tipping incidents. We will take enforcement action where we have evidence seeking prosecutions where possible. Please report any fly-tipping you see, providing as much information as you can and we will take the appropriate action.

Why have these changes been made?

With ongoing cuts to funding from central government we need to streamline services in order to make them sustainable. Introducing a fortnightly general waste collection service makes the collection of the city’s waste more affordable. More than seven out of ten Local Authorities in England already operate the same system of collecting bins every other week, and Southampton has now also made the decision to change to this more efficient system.

The move to fortnightly general waste collections encourages people in the city to recycle wherever possible in order to maximise the space available in general waste bins. Our recycling rates in Southampton are currently lower than the national average. Recycling is good for the environment.

Council tax – why has my tax gone up while you are reducing services?

Reduced financial contributions from Central Government and increasing operational costs together with increased demand from service users has resulted in the need to increase Council Tax. Non-essential services have been streamlined, or are no longer provided, to ensure that essential services such as social care are maintained whilst enabling Southampton City Council to balance their budget.

The savings made by changing the way waste is collected will be used to protect other essential Council services. There will continue to be an efficient waste and recycling collection service in the city that meets the needs of residents.

What will happen if I refuse to pay the Council Tax?

You are legally obliged to pay the Council Tax. If payments are not made, the council will issue a single reminder. If this does not prompt a payment, then the council will issue a court summons, which will add additional costs and could lead to further action to collect the debt, including the attachment of earnings or the attachment of certain benefits or the use of bailiffs. Residents will not receive a reduction in council tax. Any savings made will be used to help balance our budget and ensure that the council can continue to provide vital services to residents.