Food and garden waste questions

Why have you added food waste to the green bin collection service?

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Approximately 20% to 35% of the waste in an average household bin is food waste. Collecting food waste for composting has environmental and financial benefits. When food waste is sent to landfill, it decomposes to produce methane, a harmful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. By not sending food waste to landfill, the Council also saves money. It costs £160 per tonne to send waste to landfill, whereas recycling/composting costs approximately £50 per tonne.

What types of food waste will it be possible to put in the green bin?

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All food waste will be taken in the green bin, including: meat and fish, raw and cooked including bones; dairy products, such as eggs and cheese; raw and cooked vegetables and fruit; bread, cakes and pastries; rice, pasta and beans; tea bags and coffee grounds; solid fat; and left over food on plates and dishes.

NO liquids, such as cooking oil, milk and juice will be acceptable in the green bin.

How should I put food waste into the green bin?

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Food waste should be put loose into the green bin.  You may find it more convenient to separate your food waste in the kitchen by placing it into a lidded plastic container, such as an empty ice cream tub or you can purchase a special food waste container, called a kitchen caddy. This will mean that you don’t need to go to your green bin every time you have an item of food waste to dispose of. The contents can then be put into your green bin when the container is full. Do not put the container in the green bin.

Is there an alternative to putting food waste loose into the green bin?

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Yes you may put your food waste into compostable bags. These are designed to be used to line a kitchen caddy (food waste storage container) or could be used to line any container that you are using to collect food waste in.  When full, the bags can be tied up and put into the green bin.

Where can I buy compostable bags?

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Individual compostable bags can be purchased at the tills from local Co-op stores in Trafford. These bags can also be used to carry the shopping home, before reusing for leftover food waste.

Rolls of compostable bags can be purchased from major supermarkets and shops, such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and Wilkinson’s. A number of companies also sell rolls of compostable bags by mail-order and online.

What types of compostable bags are acceptable to use?

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When purchasing compostable bags from shops, supermarkets or by mail order/online, ensure they are marked as conforming to composting standard BS EN13432. Bags that conform to this standard should display the ‘looped seedling’ logo. Compostable bags are made from corn or potato starch that will break down during the composting process.

Can I put food waste in a plastic bag into the green bin?

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No. Food waste in plastic bags cannot be processed, as these bags will not break down during the composting process. Green bins containing items in plastic bags will not be emptied. If they are emptied, this could lead to the lorry load being rejected at the Materials Recycling Facility and sent to landfill at extra cost.

Can I use bags that are described as degradable or biodegradable?

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No – this does not mean that they are compostable and therefore, they are not suitable to use.

Can I wrap food waste in newspaper?

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It is OK to use a small amount of newspaper to wrap your food waste in as it will compost down, but please continue to recycle the rest of your newspaper in your blue bin.

Can I put dog/cat faeces in the green bin?

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Sorry but we cannot accept dog/cat faeces in the green bin. Please double bag and put in your grey bin.

Can I put pet litter/bedding in the green bin?

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Litter and bedding from vegetarian pets (such as hamsters), hay and straw pet bedding (e.g. rabbits and guinea pigs) is acceptable in the green bin.

How do I avoid maggots, flies and smells?

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Do not leave food waste uncovered inside the house before putting it in the green bin, as flies may lay the eggs that develop into maggots during this time.  Keep the green bin lid fully closed and if possible, out of direct sunlight.  Try to remove some of the moisture from food waste before it goes into the green bin, for example by draining peelings. If using compostable bags to contain your food waste, squeeze the air out once they are full. The lack of air should reduce smells by slowing down the rate of decomposition.

Where will the food and garden waste collected in Trafford go to be processed?

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The material collected in the green bins will be transported to a bio-waste composting facility, called an In-Vessel Composter, located in Trafford Park.  In-Vessel composting is an industrial process of composting that is undertaken in a controlled enclosed environment usually in tanks or containers. Air, temperature, humidity and gases generated are all measured to optimise the composting process.  The compost is used as a soil improver in landscaping, farming and horticulture.

Can I buy the compost?

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Sorry no – all the compost is used in landscaping, farming and horticulture.

I live in a flat/apartment/house in multiple occupancy. Can I collect my food waste on the green bin service?

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Yes, if there is a green bin at your property. If not, please contact us online or ring the Call Centre on telephone number 03330 035865 to enquire if your address can be included in a green bin collection round.

What if I have a large family and my green bin is not big enough for all my garden and food waste? Can I have another green bin?

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Yes – order an extra bin online or ring the Call Centre on 03330 035865.

I live in a terraced house and haven’t got a green bin. How can I get one?

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Please contact us online or ring the Call Centre on 03330 035865 to enquire if your address can be included in a green bin collection round.

I have a visual impairment; I am worried about being able to tell the difference between the bins.

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The blue bin has two dimples on the lid, the grey bin has four dimples on the lid and the black bin has 2 ‘cut outs’ on the right side leading edge of the bin. The green bin has 3 dots or 1 cut out on the front edge of the bin or 2 cut-away segments on the left side leading edge of the bin.

Will the green bin need cleaning?

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The smooth sides of the bin minimise the likelihood of the contents sticking to the inside of the bin, though some people like to wash their bins occasionally. This can be easily done by simply putting the bin on its side and using a mop or hosepipe. If so you must ensure that the drain you are using to discard of the rinse water is a foul sewer drain and NOT a surface water drain. Similarly rinse water must not be discarded on open land. There are companies that will clean your bins, however we are unable to recommend any one company.  Check out the local phone book for professional cleaning companies.

What if my bin is damaged/stolen?

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A replacement bin can be ordered for you. Please report it online or ring the Call Centre on 03330 035865.

How can I avoid wasting so much food?

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The main reasons for throwing away food can be grouped in to "cooking or preparing too much" (for example cooking too much rice or pasta and it gets left in the saucepan or on the plate) or "not using food in time" - for example having to throw out fruit and vegetables because they’ve gone off in the fruit bowl or in the fridge, or not eating food before it goes past its use-by date.

We know that there are lots of potential reasons why food might not get eaten in time – our plans change, we forget what food we have in the cupboards, we forget to freeze or chill something to use at a later date, we lack the confidence or knowledge on how to use up our leftovers – which is where the Love Food Hate Waste campaign can help.

Log onto www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for recipes using food leftovers, tips on food storage and advice on portion sizing.

Can I still compost my food waste at home?

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Yes, of course. We are starting to collect food waste to offer a convenient way of composting food waste to residents. If you already compost your food waste at home in a compost heap or compost bin, you can continue to do so.

Please note that you will be able put fish, meat, dairy and plate scrapings into the green bin, items that are not advisable to put into a compost bin or compost heap. So you could continue composting at home and use the green bin for these items of food waste.

We have joined with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority to offer our residents the opportunity to purchase compost bins at discounted prices.

For more details, visit the get composting website. To order by telephone, please ring 0844 571 4444.

Why do people get a discount if they buy their garden waste permit online?

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The Council will use the customer’s email address to notify the customer when it is time to renew their permit, and  let them know about any changes to the service.  By using the online forms there are significant savings to delivering the service, including staff time at the contact centre and the printing and delivery of information.  This means that those signing up online cost the Council less in administration.  As we are aiming to make the collection of garden waste self-funding it is fair to pass back discounts to people signing up online.

A £5 discount is applied for anyone subscribing using an online form.  Residents without their own computers can sign up using the public computers in any of Trafford’s Council Libraries and it is also possible for carers, close friends and family members to sign up other people, providing the delivery address registered is the one where the garden waste will be collected from.  All that is required is a valid email address.  Staff at the libraries are available to assist residents who may not have used a computer before.

What do I do with waste I collect from our street or open space next to my house?

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We are very grateful to people who help maintain our public spaces and recognise that the support we receive from community groups and individuals makes a real difference.

The One Trafford Partnership have a system in place  for picking up waste collected through community litter picks.  If you intend to arrange  a clean-up of your local area you can contact One Trafford Partnership on 03330 035 865 to agree when and where the bags can be collected from.

We would discourage community clean ups along busy roads for safety reasons and ask that if a street requires cleaning due to heavy leaf fall that it is reported online or through the contact centre. The One Trafford Partnership put out extra resources during leaf fall season each year to clear up the leaves as quickly as possible. If you believe the pavement is dangerous as a result of the debris please mention this in your report so we can prioritise it.

We would not expect residents to put green waste debris from the street into their green waste bin. This is because waste that has been in contact with the road and pavement is at risk of being contaminated with pollutants from car emissions. Currently the laws state that we are not allowed to send this waste to a composting facility. This waste may, however, be suitable for home composting.   We ask that this waste is not put in your grey residual bin either as the waste collection crew have no way of knowing that the waste came from the street and may reject your bin if green waste is present.

What are my rights regarding leaves and other debris falling from trees overhanging my property

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Under common law, branches and fruit of a tree must be offered back to the owner of that tree is they are taken down by the person who’s land the branches overhang. This is because certain parts of a tree is deemed to be valuable. When a leaf or seeds and small twigs leaves a tree naturally, they no longer have a legal owner. It is the responsibility of the property owner to remove any leaves collected from their property. 

The Council currently removes hundreds of tonnes of leaves from the highway on an annual basis. At least 50% of the leaves are from trees situated on private land and do not belong to us.

Please do not sweep out or put out leaves and other natural debris from your garden or driveway onto the street as this will be treated as a littering offence (or a fly tipping offence is deposited in larger quantities). You may also cause the pavement to become hazardous to pedestrians.

Will you reduce the amount you are paying Amey as they won’t be collecting as much garden waste?

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We have not modelled any operational savings from this service change as we still have to collect a green waste bin or caddy from every property, meaning Amey are not intending to reduce their fleet size at this time as a result of this budget option. We work very closely within the One Trafford Partnership to make the service as efficient as possible. If at some point operational savings are identified from the green waste collection service, the Council will be entitled to claim that saving.

We do expect to collect less garden waste overall as some residents will start to home compost or choose to take it free of charge to the household waste recycling centres. However, the Council pay waste treatment costs directly to the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority not to Amey. Garden waste that is sent for composting on its own is around half the cost of recycling garden waste when it is mixed with food waste, meaning we are paying less for recycling treatments as a result of this scheme.

We also expect the Right Stuff Right Bin Campaign launching in April to result in a rise in households recycling their food waste, which will mean the crews will have more food waste to collect from more properties. £20,000 of savings from some of the income generated from the garden waste subscriptions is being used to offer subsidised home compost bins and promote food waste recycling.

Do the Council make money from selling the compost that is made from our green waste?

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No. The Council have to pay a fee for every tonne of green waste that we send for composting. There is a cost to composting waste through a composting facility. The Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority and their contractors work with Revive, a local organisation who produce compost for sale and this helps to keep the cost of the overall treatment service as low as possible for the districts.  Revive also offer local volunteer groups and charities  across Greater Manchester free compost to use on community projects.

How can charging for garden waste be good for the local or global environment?

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There is no evidence to suggest that introducing a charge for garden waste increases fly tipping. Many districts that have introduced the charge have reported little or no increases in reports of garden waste fly tips. The vast majority of people living in our borough are very responsible and whilst some may be unhappy with the new charge, it does not mean they are prepared to break the law or upset their neighbours by acting irresponsibly.

Most Councils have only been collecting garden waste for recycling since the late nineties and early noughties, in response to increased recycling targets imposed through the EU. Unfortunately, this led to many households giving up composting their garden waste at home and the overall amount of waste collected increased significantly.  There are two very distinct environmental benefits by introducing a charge for collecting garden waste in Trafford:

  • The garden waste that is taken to the household waste recycling centres by residents who do not want to pay for the service can be treated in a more environmentally friendly way as it is not mixed with food waste (an aerobic process called “Windrow composting” instead of an anaerobic process called in-vessel composting). It also produces a higher grade compost that has a greater range of uses. 
  • We anticipate that many households will take up home composting which is the best way to treat garden waste in an environmentally friendly way. Well managed compost heaps provide microclimates for mini-beasts and produce a healthy clean mulch or fertilizer for your garden, helping to return vital nutrients to your soil. £20,000 from the paid-for garden waste service will be re-invested every year to offer subsidised home compost bins to Trafford residents and provide free workshops for families and individuals who would like to start home composting. 

Can exemptions be given for groups or individuals that create green waste as part of their charity/ voluntary  work or community project?

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Unfortunately, no exemptions or free permits  can be issued as the service aims to be self-funding and to do so would increase the cost to householders. 

Community groups working on projects to improve their local environment can contact the One Trafford Partnership to discuss their waste requirements (03330 035 865).

The Council have invested £20,000 per year to encourage more individuals to take up home composting.  From April we will be offering a range of subsidised home composting bins and products.

If you are involved in a community garden in Trafford and are currently receiving a free collection of green waste please contact us to see how we can help get you composting this waste and encouraging others living in your community to do the same. 

I live in a flat that has communal green bins, do we have to pay?

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If the green bins are only used for food waste they will continue to be collected free of charge.

However if you have a small garden or communal areas that you tend to and wish to have this garden waste collected by the Council, then a permit must be purchased and placed on each green bin that is to be used for garden waste.

If you do not wish to pay for the removal of your garden waste it may be best to discuss this with your management company, housing trust or residents group in the first instance. It is up to each individual development to make their own arrangements for the disposal of garden waste. You may choose to home compost your garden waste instead.  

If you decide to purchase permits for your development, you may also wish to review your green bin provision to ensure your development has enough allocation of green bins to recycle both your food and  garden waste. If you would like the One Trafford Partnership to review your bin provision, please ask your management company or housing trust to contact us (03330 035 865) to arrange an appointment. Please note that there is a charge for the supply and delivery for communal recycling bins (charged to your management company or housing trust).