When providing quotes for my gardening business, customers can sometimes be shocked that there is an additional charge for waste as they often presume that this is factored into the hourly rate. The problem is that as a business, we can’t dispose of the waste in your local council waste center which is free of charge when taking waste from your own home, and as a result, have to pay to use a commercial waste recycling center.

Do gardeners need to have a license to remove waste?

The answer to this question is that yes, us gardeners need to have a lower tier green waste carriers license as a bare minimum. This is free of charge to obtain but only allows us to remove your green waste such as trees, bushes, grass clippings and more. How ever, if you are using a landscape gardener that is, for example, erecting a fence panels, then the removal of the old concrete etc, will need to be taken which a lower tier waste carriers license will not allow. Instead we need to have an upper tier waste carriers license which costs around £150.00 per 3 years in the UK. To apply for your lower tier or upper tier waste carriers license, please click here.

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How do I check if a business has a waste carriers license?

You can check the public register by clicking here and simply typing in the name of the business. If you feel that you have a good price for your garden clearance, then it’s best to check that the garden business are on the register, as if not then they are acting illegally and are most probably fly tipping your waste! This in turn can come back to you, meaning that you will need to pay the fine for not doing the necessary checks!

How much should a gardener charge to remove waste?

If your are having your garden regularly maintained by a gardener then the chances are, that they won’t charge to remove the waste. This is because in most cases, our customer’s have a green waste council bin which we can use, and if not, the small amount of grass clippings, hedge trimmings etc., are so small that it won’t cost us much to dispose of, providing that we store it and only take it to the recycling center when we have a full van load (which I will go into more detail below).

If however, I have a large gardening job where a one off cut back is needed, then I use large bundle/ton bags when bagging up the green waste. I typically charge £20.00 per ton bag which covers my time, fuel and cost of removing the waste when taking it to a commercial waste recycling center such as a skip company’s yard. When you think that if 5 ton bags are needed, this is just £100.00 (although some of my customer’s would argue that this is expensive), if you compare it to a skip (holding the same amount of waste) then this is about half the price! I can have up to 10 ton bags of waste in my van, so if I think that more than one van load is needed, then I will simply tell the customer that it’s £180.00 per van load. How ever, it’s worth knowing that you will get a lot more in a bundle bag and crushing with a spade as you fill, and then lifting them into the van, that you will just throwing it all loose into the van. £180 for a van full of loose waste would actually be quite expensive if not compacted first!

When it comes to removing concrete, old slabs, old turf/dirt etc., then I try to avoid this altogether and ask the customer to get a skip. This is because when using a commercial waste recycling center, in my opinion, it would cost a lot more compared to using a skip.

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Where do gardener’s take their waste?

I myself, use a skip company that have their own waste recycling center on site. They charge me £70.00 per tonne of green waste, or £140.00 per tonne of concrete, mixed waste etc.. That’s double the price! Not only this, but they have a minimum charge of £42.00 including VAT so the absolute best thing to do is store all of your waste until you have a van full saving you money in the long run!

When pulling into the yard, I park my van onto their large platform scales to get weighed with the waste, I then remove all waste and go back onto the weighing platform to get weighed again. The difference between the two weights is the amount that I pay, and is the proper way to remove a customer’s waste. The reason that I avoid doing this with anything other than green waste, and ask a customer to get a skip, is because concrete and dirt weighs so much more than green waste! When using a skip, there are no weight limits, you are only paying for the dimensions of the skip!

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Can a gardener remove the waste for free?

I presume that most people asking this question are gardeners just starting their own business, and the answer is that yes, although morally incorrect, there are ways to remove the waste free of charge. Remember, a free waste recycling center ran by the council are only there for domestic waste, and not for businesses. Effectively, your customer could take all of the waste there free of charge and there would be no problem, but if you take the waste for them, then you would quickly be banned from site!

The first way around this, is to load all waste into your car (if you have one, and a large enough one), and take it to the dump around working hours, maybe on the weekend. Providing that no suspicions are made, you would have no problems doing it this way.

The second way around this is to get a van permit since you aren’t allowed in a waste recycling center in a commercial vehicle without one. This is free of charge to obtain and is easy to complete an online application in a matter of minutes, and allows you to empty 12 van loads per year. How ever, your van can’t be sign written, and again, if there is any suspicion that the waste is being taken for business purposes then your permit will be revoked.

To be honest, I myself have never done this, but then I charge my customer’s for the waste being taken away which allows for an extra income. To charge for the waste and then take to a free recycling center would just be unethical!