Birmingham & Black Country

Leaves in road not green waste, Walsall Council says

Autumn leaves
Image caption Technically residents can be fined £1,000 for repeated waste offending

Leaves swept up from the street or pavement outside people's homes are not allowed in the green waste recycling, Walsall Council has said.

The leaves could be contaminated by street litter such as cigarette butts, food wrappers or dog mess, which was inappropriate for composting, it said.

Labour councillor Peter Smith said the "stupid rules" were unenforceable and should be scrapped.

Conservative council leader Mike Bird said green waste had to be kept clean.

Mr Smith, who lives in Walsall, said he had only become aware of the recycling rule when another resident had complained to him a few days ago that she had been told off by a binman for putting her leaves in the brown recycling bin.

"I thought it was a joke but when I checked out the policy there it is on the council's website, crystal clear," he added.

'Conscientious actions'

Mr Smith said the policy punished the "conscientious, public spirited actions'" of local residents who cared about the appearance of their community.

The council website states that grass cuttings, tree and shrub prunings, old plants and flowers, hedge clippings, and leaves from the garden, are acceptable for green waste recycling.

It advises that leaves off the road and plastic bin liners are not accepted for recycling.

A £1,000 fine could be given to anyone who repeatedly breaks the rules, but in practice it would never be applied, the council said.

"There's an old saying, rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.

"It's absolutely stupid and the whole policy needs looking at," Mr Smith said.

The Conservative council leader Mike Bird said: "We've made it clear, we do support conscientious citizens for keeping their pathways clear."

Compost resold

He said during the winter the roads and pavements were salted which could contaminate leaves swept up from the roads.

"All of the green waste goes to composting and it is imperative it is kept as clear as possible from contaminants because the compost is sold back to the community.

"When you sweep a pavement you know what type of things you find on the pavement - dog mess, fag ends.

"That is not acceptable for putting in a brown bin, that goes in a black bin because that goes to landfill."

He said Walsall Council collected green waste recycling from about 94,000 homes and was one of the best boroughs in England for recycling waste.

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