THE kerb-side rubbish collection system presently enjoyed by South Gippsland Shire residents is about to change… and many residents won’t like it.
After dubbing the once-a-fortnight garbage bin collection schedule recently adopted by the Bass Coast Shire as “best practice” at a council meeting last week, leading to a massive reduction in the volume of waste to landfill, South Gippsland looks almost certain to go that way.
And, in a double-whammy for ratepayers, they’ll have to pay the full cost of any changes through their annual garbage rate, including the impost of any new arrangements forced on them by the China ban on the importation of mixed recycling materials.
That was the upshot of a Food Organics/Garden Organics (FOGO) report presented to the council at a community briefing session last Wednesday by the council’s Waste Management Supervisor Peter Roberts.
It was Roberts who dubbed the Bass Coast system as state’s “best practice” at the moment and he should know.
Not only is he a highly experienced waste and recycling manager, he’s also a Bass Coast resident.
Speaking to the shire council last week he said the shire’s garbage contract with Cleanaway was coming up for renegotiation, presenting the perfect opportunity to reduce waste to landfill still further by adopting the Bass Coast system, or something similar.
And it seems that the best South Gippsland householders can hope for, at the suggestion of Cr Ray Argento, is a 240 litre bin for general waste (rather than Bass Coast’s 120 litre bin) and a 120 litre bin for FOGO waste.
There might also be weekly collections in coastal towns during the summer holidays.
While it’s still an option to continue with weekly collections of the general waste bins, Mr Roberts warned residents would only change their habits if forced to by fortnightly collections.
“If you don’t restrict garbage bin collection (to fortnightly) you’re unlikely to get behavioural change because people will continue to dump everything in the bin,” Mr Roberts said.
It’s always going to be a compromise, he said, between “convenience for the ratepayers” and reducing costs by diverting waste away from landfill, resulting in a positive impact on the environment.
Mr Roberts said the introduction of the new system into Bass Coast required a lot of change but he said the vast majority of people had now accepted it.
“The main problem for Bass Coast had to do with fortnightly collections in coastal areas during the holidays. It doesn’t suit everyone.”
Asked by the Mayor Cr Lorraine Brunt how much he estimated the change would lead to a reduction in waste to landfill, Mr Roberts said there’d already been a 20 to 25 per cent reduction as a result of introducing the green waste bins.
And annual inspections of what people put in their bins indicated that up to a further 44 per cent could be eliminated if food waste was diverted from the general waste bins into a FOGO bin.
“You’re never going to get all that but if you don’t restrict collection of the garbage bin, people will fill up that space with other waste. They will always find other things to put into their bins,” he said.
Technically ratepayers have until January 2020 before a new kerbside collection contract needs to be let but it’s highly likely there will be change before then, to accommodate the changed recycling market but also to reduce the costly level of waste to landfill.
Cr Alyson Skinner said she wanted the shire to look at “a suite of options” including establishing “tip shops” that could on-sell reusable goods, more hard-waste collections and establishing a shared recycling facility.
Several councillors expressed the view that they would like to see Gippsland councils working together to come up with solutions to the present waste and recycling crisis by developing new initiatives that might create local jobs.
“China could be the correction we had to have,” said Cr Brunt.
Cr Andrew McEwen said education was the key to change.
Mr Roberts agreed.
“If there’s one message I’m getting loud and clear it’s that you can’t scrimp on education. If you do, you’re going to run into trouble.”