MORE than half of people who used brown bins have turned their backs on the service since Highland Council introduced a £30 charge, new figures have revealed.
There were no extra fee for the garden waste recycling facility until earlier this year when the council brought it in as part of budget cuts totalling £20 million.
There was a huge backlash to the charge and, combined with council tax increases, many people refused to pay for the bins.
Now the local authority has revealed that 52 per cent of households have decided against stumping up. Despite this, the charge has earned £960,000 from 32,000 bins, smashing through the £660,000 target set during budget talks in February, when councillors based expected income on a 33 per cent uptake.
More than 25,000 bins had been paid for by June, the council’s deadline for the first collection under the chargeable service.
There are thought to be around 35,000 unused bins but the council has urged anyone who may want it in the future not to return their bin.
A council spokeswoman said: “It will cost approximately £2500 for hired vehicles to collect potentially 30,000 brown bins and we will utilise existing staff to carry out the collections. It is not possible to predict how many bins will be returned at this stage.
“The bins will be cleaned, checked and stored in each of the main depots and will be used to replace any damaged brown bins and to provide browns where we have area growth across the region.”