A BASS Coast Shire councillor’s push for the council to pick up bins weekly in the summer of 2022-23 has failed.
There was much debate between councillors after Cr Ron Bauer tabled his notice of motion regarding the collection of waste bins during peak holiday times.
The motion, presented at last week’s council meeting, called for the three kerbside bins (red, yellow and green) to be collected weekly, shire-wide between
Boxing Day 2022, to the last Friday of January annually.
However, the original motion was from Boxing Day 2021.
Cr Bauer’s motion stated: “If we do the maths using Phillip Island, for example, when the population expands from 12,000 inhabitants to a conservative 60,000-plus every peak holiday, the amount of waste that is generated rises exponentially.”
“Yet the net production of landfill is zero state-wide because the waste produced has been shifted from the tourist’s hometown to the holiday spot.
“So, by definition, any extra collection of landfill complies with state’s and Bass [Coast] Shire’s overarching environmental policy of not increasing waste to landfill.”
However, according to a report by council officers, “an increase in the frequency of red landfill bin collection service over summer would be contrary to the objectives of council’s Waste Management Strategy 2015-2025, Climate Change Action Plan 2020-2030, and the state government’s Circular Economy policy”.
The report also stated that if the motion was supported, the current kerbside collection contract would have to be renegotiated.
“A variation to the contract would be required and would result in a significant increase in the standard waste charge for all users through to 2027.
“This increase is estimated at between $500,000 and $600,000 per year, on top of the $1.3m per annum currently paid under the contract for red landfill bin collections.
“This equates to an additional $18 to $21 per tenement on top of the current garbage levy.”
During council’s meeting, Cr Bauer said the motion only concentrated on collecting the inevitable waste in summer.
“Let’s get something crystal clear: this is not a motion to alter the shire’s waste reduction policies or strategies,” he said.
“I, like the rest of my fellow councillors, agree that the more waste we can redirect from landfill to recycle programs, is an imperative not only for our shire, but for the planet.
“The motion’s timeline allows council plenty of time to communicate directly with ratepayers of the upcoming changes.”
However, councillors were divided on the topic throughout the meeting, with some supporting certain aspects but opposed to others.
Cr Bruce Kent, who was in favour of the motion, said there needed to be an increase in education for the community on disposing of waste effectively.
“It should be noted by the community that we still have 45 per cent of content in our red bins that should not be in those red bins,” Cr Kent said.
“I can also foresee we’ve got 15 months before this is implemented, to have consultation with the community and to have their say.”
Cr David Rooks said while he appreciated Cr Bauer’s motion and acknowledged there was an issue with waste, the problem was limited to short-term accommodation.
“We don’t have a problem outside the holiday period, we only have a problem during those holiday periods,” he said.
“We have a sorting problem; people don’t sort their waste enough, as Cr Kent said.
“I believe we first need to incentivise and educate those short-term accommodation people, to get hold of these three bins into their homes they rent out.
“That would effectively mean locals don’t have to pay for this additional cost that may happen if this motion gets through.”
Cr Les Larke questioned why the financial figures – estimated at between $500,000 and $600,000 – relating to the increased cost of collection were disclosed.
In response, council’s CEO Ali Wastie said the figures were revealed to provide context for councillors to “make an informed decision”.
However, Cr Larke said he had requested on “several occasions” how the estimate was calculated.
“I’m bemused how this calculation has been made and estimated,” Cr Larke said.
Ms Wastie again replied, stating the figures were estimates, determined in consultation with the current contractor and the breakdown would be “commercial in confidence”.
Cr Michael Whelan believed the motion would undermine council’s Waste Management Strategy 2015-2025.
“It does nothing about what was first predicated on, expecting an influx of visitors over this summer from the pent-up demand arising from COVID, it doesn’t even attempt to do that,” he said.
“I previously offered Cr Bauer to work with him and come up with some solutions for this summer, because there’s no doubt there is a problem with overflowing waste.”
Cr Rochelle Halstead disagreed that the issue was only with outside tourism, and said residents were having difficulty with overflowing bins.
“It’s not short-term tourists who are reporting these problems to councillors, it’s our residents,” she said.
“We need to address it, so I congratulate Cr Bauer for bringing this motion to council and forcing this debate over the issue.”
Cr Leticia Laing said while she acknowledged there were waste issues throughout the shire, it wasn’t fair for the “whole shire to foot the bill”.
“I don’t want to diminish that it might be a problem,” Cr Laing said, adding that she believed going against the Waste Management Strategy and
“increasing landfill at Grantville Transfer Station” wasn’t the solution.
The notice of motion failed with a five to three vote, and one abstained.