John Swarbrick is not impressed he’ll be losing his council green waste bin in a few weeks.
By Gav Ross
BASS Coast Shire Council has officially terminated the most well received initiative it has come up with in years.
The kerbside green waste collection trial has been a hit with participants since it was introduced to parts of Phillip Island 18 months ago.
Residents who signed up for the service paid $70 every six months for a fortnightly green waste bin pick up.
The trial proved popular with up to 610 residents throughout Cowes, Ventnor, Silverleaves, Rhyll and Wimbledon Heights. A survey last year revealed a high satisfaction rate of 94.5 per cent.
Survey feedback also indicated that 84 per cent of participants would be ‘very disappointed’ if regular collection was terminated.
The downside, however, is that council was subsidising the majority of the cost of the trial – to the tune of $8500 a month.
This was due to a disappointingly low take-up rate, with only a very small amount (between 7.5 and 8.7 per cent) of the 7000 total ratepayers offered the service taking part.
Additionally, the 240-litre green-lid bins – a cost covered by council – were $90 for each property alone.
At the first council meeting of the year last Wednesday, councillors voted in favour of winding up the trial on March 15.
Cr Andrew Phillips said the popularity of the trial had placed council in a difficult position.
“Unfortunately there was a very low take-up rate, but the people who had the bins were very satisfied,” he said.
“I’ve even had people come into my (work) to tell me how great the service was.
“But it has cost council some significant dollars.”
Cr Phil Wright agreed, describing the trial as “probably the most appreciated service council has ever done”.
“It’s great for those people who are retired on low income and we want to encourage people to grow trees and keep the island green,” he said.
“It’s sad I’m going to vote against something so well appreciated, but it’s just the economic reality of council – we need to make these tough decisions.
“Had we gotten around the 20 to 25 per cent take-up mark (the service) probably would have paid for itself.
“I think it was a good effort for council to go down this path and trial it but the numbers just don’t add up.”
Whilst the trial might be concluding, the council will still investigate whether a more extensive green waste service for the entire municipality is possible.
Work is continuing on the council’s Waste Management Strategy 2015-25 and there will now be a full feasibility study dedicated to a shire-wide three-bin system.
Council’s rubbish decision
RHYLL resident John Swarbrick was one of the many ratepayers who valued the green waste service while it lasted, and he criticised the council for not continuing with the trial at least until the Waste Management Strategy is sorted.
“Surely they could have continued with it until they came up with the strategy or an alternative,” he said.
“I’m very disappointed.”
Mr Swarbrick resides on a seven-acre property and even though he regularly uses a mulcher, he found he was easily filling his green bin every fortnight.
“I didn’t realise how much green waste I generated until I was filling the bin,” he admitted.
And while he regarded the $70 fee every six months to take part in the trial as “cheap”, he still believes the council could do better.
“I resent the fact there isn’t free green waste disposal, especially with the rates we pay.”
Mr Swarbrick also said he was mystified by a recent council media release comment by Jodi Kennedy, the acting general manager of Sustainable Development and Growth, which explained that part of the reason it would be difficult to justify continuing the trial was due to “a lack of processing options”.
“We’ve got to take green waste to the Dunsmore Road temporary transfer station, so you’ve still got to process the waste anyway,” he argued.
“That comment was not very well considered.”
Mr Swarbrick also said he knew of many elderly people on the island who either don’t have trailers to cart away their green waste or have grown too old to drive.
“I know of an elderly man who recently returned to the area and he has a severe heart condition.
“He can’t drive, so he can’t get to the tip and so he will just let his green waste accumulate.”
As for what Mr Swarbrick will do once his green bin is carted off into the sunset, the result, he says, will be obvious.
“Councillors should not be surprised if they find more people’s regular rubbish bins filled with green waste.
“That’s what I shall be doing.”