Your questions answered
Click on one of the different waste types below to find specific questions and answers for each bin.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are a household with children in nappies, how will we fit everything into the black bin?
If your household does produce a lot of nappies you can purchase nappy sacks, which can be used for nappy waste only.
Sacks cost 55p each and can be bought over the phone from Veolia on 0203 567 6900 who will post them to you (with an additional postage charge). Find out more about nappy sacks.
Why has my black-lidded bin changed to fortnightly collections?
Around 60% of household waste can be recycled and doesn’t need to go in the black bin
By collecting recyclables and food waste every week, most household waste will be taken away weekly, leaving more space in the black bin for waste that cannot be recycled
As people are recycling more, over three quarters of councils now collect non-recyclable waste fortnightly or less frequently.
I need assistance with putting my bins out for collection
We are a large household - can we have a larger bin?
If you live in a household with five or more permanent residents you can request a larger bin. Before requesting a larger bin, we ask that you consider whether you really need the extra bin capacity. Please check that you are recycling all you can. You can have an extra recycling bin if you're regularly producing extra recycling every week. To request a larger black bin or an extra recycling bin please contact Veolia on 020 3567 6900.
I’m worried that there won’t be enough room for all of my waste. What can do I?
Over 60% of household waste can be recycled and doesn’t need to go in the black bin. If you are recycling everything you can and using the new weekly food waste collection service there should be enough space in your black bin for waste that cannot be recycled such as polystyrene, nappies and non-recyclable plastic (e.g. carrier bags, bread bags and food wrapping).
There may be a period of adjusting to the new service and if after a few of weeks you find you are struggling to fit all your waste in your black bin, check what you are putting in your blue-lidded bin and outdoor brown food bin. For more advice, you can contact Veolia on 0203 567 6900 to request a call or visit from an Outreach Officer from July.
I have non-infectious/medical healthcare waste, how do I dispose of it?
At the moment please continue to dispose of it as you currently do. However, from September, if you are struggling to contain your healthcare waste (incontinence pads, stoma bags, catheter bags and minor first aid dressings) in your non-recyclable waste bin, please call Veolia on 0203 567 6900. Please also see the following for more information.
Why hasn't my black bin been emptied?
If your bin hasn't been emptied this could be due to a number of reasons. A card hanger should be on your bin handle explaining the reason. Visit our website for a full list of the reasons why.
If you think it has been accidentally missed, please report this online within 24 hours of your scheduled collection www.watford.gov.uk/missedbin.
Black bins are now collected every two weeks so it may not be your collection week, please check your calendar (delivered to you in July) or online at www.watford.gov.uk/mybinday
Can I put garden waste into my black bin?
I currently have an assisted collection, how will these changes affect me?
Your assisted collection will continue and we will collect bins from their usual place. This will be applied to your green bin subscription if you choose to sign up and the new weekly food waste collections.
Are there any changes to my blue-lidded (recycling) bin collections?
No, your blue-lidded bin will continue to be collected every week as normal.
Why is there a garden waste charge?
• Since 2009, the money the council gets from government has been cut by 70%. This means we have had to look at how we pay for all the services we provide
• Garden waste is a discretionary service (one we don’t have to provide) and there are many residents (those in flats/apartments or homes without gardens) who do not use the service
• We want to keep providing the service and think it’s better, and fairer, to offer a paid for service for those who want it – the payment will go towards covering the cost of the service
• Nearly two thirds of councils now charge for collecting garden waste
What happens if I don't pay?
Only green bins with the relevant years sticker (which you get when you pay) will be collected from 1 September 2020.
Where does the money go?
Like all other local authorities, we have seen significant reductions to our budget due to a 70% reduction in funding from central government.
The green bin subscription charge goes towards protecting other vital services including weekly food waste collections to all homes.
The charge also goes towards covering the cost of delivering this non-statutory service.
How much will it cost me to have my green bin emptied?
It will cost:
£40 per bin per year (Direct Debit, Debit or Credit Card)
£35 per bin per year (with council-related benefits, no further reduction for Direct Debit)
How do I sign up to the garden waste service?
You can sign up online or by calling the Customer Service Centre on 01923 226400.
When will I be able to sign up?
You can sign up to the garden waste collection service now.
Can I sign up to the service if I live in a flat?
If you live in a flat in a block of five or less you can sign up.
If you live in a flat in a block of six and have communal bins your managing agent can sign up to the service on behalf of all residents. Please contact your managing agent to request this.
How will you know if I have paid?
When you sign up and pay a coloured sticker with your address and individual reference number is sent out within two weeks. Each subscription year will have a different coloured sticker. Follow instructions around sticking this on your green bin. Only bins displaying the sticker will be emptied. We will have a record of who has paid.
What else can I do with my garden waste if I don’t sign up to the subscription service?
Do other councils make a charge for collecting garden waste bins?
Of 311 garden waste collection schemes operated by councils in England, around 65% of them are charged for. Locally Three Rivers, Harrow, North Herts, Broxbourne and Welwyn councils all charge to collect garden waste bins.
When do I have to pay my garden waste charge by?
In order to receive a full 12 months of the service, payments need to be received by early August. Payments can still be made after this date, but the period covered by the subscription charge will still end on 31 August the following year (i.e. it will be less than a full 12 months).
Why are you charging for garden waste to be collected when I already pay for this in my council tax?
Your council tax does not cover the collection of garden waste as this is not a mandatory service (one the council has to offer). Only 15p from every £1 that is collected through council tax goes to Watford Borough Council (based on 2019/2020). The rest goes to Hertfordshire County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire to pay for transport, schools, highways, and police and fire services. The money Watford Borough Council receives goes towards local services such as waste and recycling collections, planning and housing.
The amount isn't enough to also cover the cost of the garden waste collection. Funding for this comes from central government and has been cut by 70% in the last 10 years. For us to be able to continue offering this service we have had to find other ways of funding the service.
Is it legal to charge for the collection of garden waste?
Yes. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, councils can charge for the collection of garden waste. Charging for the collection of garden waste will bring Watford in line with some of our neighbouring councils who have a charged service, such as Welwyn Hatfield, Broxbourne, North Herts and Three Rivers.
There are some services that councils are required to provide by law. These are known as mandatory services. There are other services that councils aren’t required to provide by law but that they choose to provide. These are know as discretionary services and collecting garden waste is one of these discretionary services.
Is there a discount for residents in receipt of benefits?
Housing Benefit, in the form of Rent Allowance or Local Housing Allowance for people living in rented accommodation
Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme discount
Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
Working Tax credit
Child Tax Credit
Guaranteed Pension Credit (not Savings Pension Credit)
Employment and Support Allowance (income based)
Why do I now have to use the brown outdoor food bin for food waste? I would rather still use my green bin
I have a smaller green bin (140 litre), can I change it for a larger bin (240 litre)?
Yes you can swap it for free up until December 2020 after this date there will be a charge to do this. Please call Veolia 0203 567 6900 to arrange this.
I would like a continue using my smaller green bin (140 litre). Can I have a discounted price on the garden waste sign up?
No, all bins are priced the same. We give out the larger bins as standard, if you have a smaller bin and want it swapped for the larger bin please contact Veolia on 0203 567 6900 who will arrange this for free until December 2020.
I have signed up mid-year, do I renew at the same time next year?
No, the sign up year always runs from 1 September to 31 August. If you sign up part way through the year you will still be required to renew by early-August next year to ensure you have received your new sticker(s) ready for the new collection year.
I have just paid and signed up to the service, does my bin get collected immediately?
No, stickers can take up to two weeks to arrive. Once you have received your sticker (and bin if ordered) collections will start on your next scheduled collection day. Only bins displaying the correct sticker will be emptied. This could take up to a maximum of four weeks depending on when you paid in relation to your collection day.
I have paid online but not received my sticker, what do I do?
Stickers can take up to two weeks to arrive. If it has been longer than two weeks and you still haven’t received your sticker please call the Customer Service Centre at the Town Hall on 01923 226400.
I am having trouble signing up online, how can I get help?
Please call the Customer Service Centre at the Town Hall on 01923 226400 for help and advice.
I have moved into a new property with stickers – do I have to pay again?
If the property has already paid and there is a relevant sticker you will not need to pay again. If there is no sticker present you will need to sign up. Please do tell us you have moved in even if there is a relevant sticker so we can ensure you receive a reminder email at renewal time.
If my green bin with a sign up sticker on it goes missing, what do I do?
The sticker has your address and an individual reference number on it so can’t be used by anyone else. Please check with your neighbours in case they have accidentally brought in your bin by mistake and leave it a few days as bins often turn up. If it doesn’t please contact Veolia on 0203 567 6900.
Will my garden waste be collected over Christmas?
Yes, collections are fortnightly all year with no break.
What happens if I move to another house in Watford?
Please let us know where you are moving to and we will update our records.
If my bin has been missed, can I have a refund?
No, this service is non-refundable. If your bin has been missed please report it online within 24 hours of your scheduled collection and we will return to empty it.
If weather disrupts the collection service (for example, if it snows) will I receive a refund for the service?
No refunds will be given for this service. However we will make every attempt (where safe to do so) to collect your bins.
If I have missed the start date for the annual sign up period, can I have a discount?
No, there is a standard charge with no discounts for late sign ups.
Do I get a discount if I sign up partway through the sign up year?
There are no discounts if you sign up part-way through the year and no refunds if you stop using the service. We recommend you sign up by early-August every year to ensure you receive a full years collection service.
Why do you want me to separate food and garden waste when it is going in the same truck on alternate week collections?
Food waste is collected weekly. We have found the most cost effective way of collecting it is to mix it with garden waste every other week.
This means week 1 it is collected with garden waste and taken for In Vessel Composting (IVC) and turned into compost. In week 2 it is collected separately and taken for Anaerobic Digestion (Ad) and turned into biogas or biofertiliser. Both are good forms of recycling food waste.
How do I now recycle my real Christmas tree?
We will continue to collect all real Christmas trees within the communicated period. You do not have to sign up to the chargeable garden waste collection service for this collection.
Please either leave it in your green bin (cut in half if over 6ft), or just put it out in your usual collection spot next to your bins.
My bin has been damaged, lost or stolen will I receive a new bin free of charge?
In the first instance, please check with your neighbours as often they have been moved accidentally. If they do not turn up after a couple of days please contact Veolia on 0203 567 6900.
A replacement bin will be provided but a delivery charge applies. Proof of address is required, such as a recent council tax or utility bill.
Can I leave additional waste next to the garden waste bin to be collected?
No, only bins that have been paid for will be collected and other material left by the side of the bin will not. If you feel you will need additional waste to be collected, you can sign up for an additional bin.
When will the bin be emptied?
The garden waste bin will be collected fortnightly, please refer to your new waste and recycling calendar (sent to you in July) which has more information.
What time does my bin need to be put out on collection day?
Please put your garden waste bin out for collection on the edge of your front property boundary by 6am on your collection day.
How can I stop other people putting their waste into the garden waste bin(s) that I am paying for?
You should store your bin within your property boundary until collection day in the same way that you would with your other bins.
Can I put garden waste into my black bin?
What is the difference between the kitchen caddy and brown food bin?
The kitchen caddy is smaller (5 litres) and grey or green. This was supplied in 2016 and is not an essential part of the waste and recycling collection but makes it easier to collect food waste in your home. The brown food bin is larger (23 litres) than the kitchen caddy but smaller than the other bins and is what should be put out on collection day.
I can't fit all of my food waste in the new brown food bin, what can I do?
Please try using your food bin for at least a month and if you find that you are overfilling it with food waste then you can apply for an extra brown food bin. Please contact Veolia on 020 3567 6900.
What can I use to line my kitchen caddy?
Only use compostable liners with the Seedling logo. However you do not need to line your kitchen caddy, but lining it can help to reduce mess and smells from your food waste. Do not use plastic bags or plastic bread bags.
Do I need to line my brown food bin?
No. This bin is for full compostable liners or loose food only. Please do not put any plastic bags or plastic bread bags in here as it will not be emptied.
How do I stop vermin from getting into my brown food bin?
Your new brown food bin has a lockable handle, which will stop animals from opening it.
How do I reduce smells from my kitchen caddy or brown food bin?
Storing food in the caddy is just the same as placing it in your black bin. Here are some tips to reduce the smell:
put food waste straight into the kitchen caddy - do not leave it out as this attracts flies
empty the full compostable liner into your brown food bin regularly to avoid it decomposing in the kitchen
- putting newspaper at the bottom of the caddy will help absorb any smells and moisture
if you do have large or smelly food items it is probably best to put these directly into your outdoor brown food bin
keep the lids of your kitchen caddy and brown food bin closed and stored away from direct heat if possible
keep your bins out of direct sunlight. This will slow down the decomposition of the food and so reduce smells
rinse out your bin regularly with boiling water and salt
Can I put my kitchen caddy out for collection instead of my brown food bin?
No, please empty the food waste from your kitchen caddy into your brown food bin and put this out for collection every week, whether or not it is full.
What happens to my food waste when you collect it?
Food waste will be taken to a recycling facility in South Mimms. Some will be composted along with garden waste through In-vessel composting (IVC) and used on local farms. The rest is processed using anaerobic digestion (AD). This means food waste is broken down to produce biogas and biofertiliser, which is used as fuel and fertiliser.
Why should I recycle my food waste?
- Recycling your food waste will create space in your black bin for your non-recycable waste. Currently around 30% of the waste we throw away in the black bin is food waste
Recycling your food waste is good for the environment, and saves money
food waste placed in the outdoor brown food bin is turned into electricity, compost, soil improver and fertiliser
If food waste goes into the black bin it costs more to get rid of, as well as harming the environment
Food does not biodegrade if it goes to landfill as it releases methane gas which is harmful to the environment
Collecting food waste for recycling means we can collect non-recycable waste less frequently.
I already compost at home, should I still use my composter?
Yes, if you already compost at home, please keep composting all your fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags and garden waste.
However, not all cooked food waste and meat/bones/bread products can go into your home compost bin. You should put these items into your outdoor brown food bin for collection.
Can I use plastic bags or biodegradable bags to line my caddy?
Is there any food I can’t put in my kitchen caddy or brown food bin?
All of your cooked and uncooked food waste including meat, vegetables and dairy products can be recycled.
Why have you introduced a new weekly food waste collection?
Recent feedback from residents shows people would recycle more food waste if collected weekly
Collecting food waste every week stops it getting unpleasant, smelly and unhygienic
Food waste makes up around 30% of the waste currently thrown away in the black bin. Recycling it is much better for the environment because it is turned into electricity and compost
Why do I now have to use the brown food bin for food waste? I would rather still use my green bin
We would encourage you to try using the new brown food bin. The benefits to using this bin are that it is collected weekly, easy to put out for collection and smaller to store. However if you want to sign up to the garden waste service and you choose to put food waste in this bin it will still be emptied but only fortnightly.
Can I get a new kitchen caddy?
Not at the moment. Please call Veolia on 0203 567 6900 to arrange delivery for a small fee of £6. Payment is taken over the phone via a credit or debit card.
AYou can also purchase a kitchen caddy from most supermarkets, or you can also use an alternative container with a lid, such as an ice-cream tub.
I can't fit all of my food waste in the new outdoor brown food bin, what can I do?
You can apply for an extra outdoor brown food bin. Please contact Veolia on 020 3567 6900.
Can I sign up to the garden waste service if I live in a flat?
If you live in a flat in a block of five or less you can sign up to the chargeable garden waste collection service. If you live in a flat in a block of six or more your managing agent will need to sign up to the service on your behalf. Please contact your managing agent to request they sign up to this service.
I’m a managing agent, how do I sign up to the service on behalf of the residents?
You can sign up in the same way as a resident, please follow these instructions. You will be responsible for ensuring your residents use this bin correctly, for cleaning the bin and dealing with any issues around using or sharing the bin.
Why am I not getting the same servce as a house?
Houses are in the first phase of changes we are making to the waste and recycling collection service. There are many different types of blocks of flats in Watford so we are going to asses their waste service on a block by block basis from February 2021 to February 2023 to ensure what is implemented is appropriate to the block.
I would like to sign up to the garden waste service, but my managing agent doesn't want to. What can I do?
If you live in a block of five flats or less you can apply to the garden waste service yourself. If you live in a block of six flats or more only managing agents can sign up for this service at the moment. This is to ensure managing agents are responsible for maintaining the bin and keeping it free from contamination.
Why can't I currently have a food waste collection?
The waste and recycling collection service that flats receive will be assessed over a two year period from February 2021 to 2023. We will be looking to introduce food waste recycling where appropriate over this period.
Will my non-recyclable (black) bin become a fortnightly collection?
No. Garden waste is the only service changing for flats at the moment. Collection frequencies will be assessed over a two year period from February 2021 to 2023.