RESIDENTS could be charged for recycling their garden waste – and banned from putting it in their regular bins.

Poole council is considering charging £31 a year to collect their garden cuttings – a service that is currently free.

At present 22,000 households in the town have green bins which are collected for free every fortnight between April and October.

But the council is considering an opt-in chargeable scheme available to all, which is expected to raise £540,000 a year.

Only five authorities have moved from a free to a chargeable green waste scheme while others have scrapped the idea because of opposition.

“Demand from properties currently without a green bin cannot be met,” said Shaun Robson, head of environmental and consumer protection in his report.

“There is no funding available to pay for new bins or operational collection costs to deliver an extended scheme.”

The report says it is “essential that a ban on putting garden waste in regular black bins is introduced at the same time.

“This policy would be implemented by education and persuasion,” it says.

It adds: “If a chargeable scheme is implemented, there must be a no green waste in the black bin policy. This policy change would have the added benefit of increasing the borough’s recycling rate.”

However some residents who currently receive the service say charging is “underhand” and will undermine the goodwill and support of the public.

“This move will reduce the amount of material recycled and lose public support for an aspect of the borough’s work that is generally well supported and popular, ” said Poole resident Tim Meachin. The borough’s environment overview and scrutiny committee will be recommending to cabinet today that it approves a six-week consultation exercise on the introduction of a chargeable garden waste scheme.