LOAD OF RUBBISH
Households hit back after State initiative to introduce fortnightly collections
COUNCILS across WA are being encouraged to axe weekly rubbish collections and tell households to separate their food scraps in the kitchen.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson wants councils to introduce three-bin collection systems, with one bin reserved for “food organics garden organics” (FOGO).
He said it would “significantly” reduce the amount of trash sent to landfill and cut the cost of kerbside collections.
“This is a small change that can make a big difference and I will be inviting all councils to closely consider this initiative,” Mr Dawson said.
But some Perth households already trialling the system have complained of “revolting” smells and pests, such as ants and cockroaches, being attracted.
A trial of 7000 homes in the City of Melville has diverted two-thirds of waste from landfill, almost double WA’s overall 36 per cent diversion rate.
As part of the changes introduced in October, weekly collections of rubbish from general waste bins — which includes dirty nappies and hygiene products — were stopped.
Instead, households were given a smaller 140-litre redtopped bin which was collected fortnightly.
Homes were also provided with “kitchen caddies” with compostible bin liners to collect their food scraps, from vegetable cuttings to tea bags, bones, prawn heads and fish scales.
Residents were told to dump the leftover food with garden waste in a green-lidded “FOGO bin”, which is collected weekly and turned into compost. Yellow-topped recycling bins are also emptied fortnightly.
A survey of households involved in the trial found 93 per cent correctly put food scraps in the new bin and 79 per cent want the changes to be made permanent. But the research also showed just onethird would be willing to pay for the FOGO service.
The biggest gripes were that fortnightly collection of general rubbish was “not enough” and the red bin was too small.
“Fortnightly red lid general waste collection is not hygienic for households who have nappies and women’s pads,” one resident told the council.
Feedback also included that the FOGO bin “stinks because they provided compostible bags that rot before the weekly bin collection” and “the kitchen caddy always smells, the bags break, it’s revolting”.
The council advised households to “always ensure the lids on your bins are properly closed”, adding that “research has shown that odours peak after one day and don’t get noticeably better or worse”.
Melville chief executive Shayne Silcox said an education campaign had accompanied the trial, including staff checking inside the bins of more than 2400 households and leaving behind a “happy” or “sad” faced tag and further clarification on how to use the bins when required.
He said a “very small percentage” of households refused to separate their waste correctly and that persistent offenders had their bins taped shut and left on the kerbside until the contamination was removed.
Melville council will consider expanding the three-bin FOGO system to the entire City in October. Dr Silcox said it was unlikely weekly red-bin collection would return and that ratepayers would not be charged higher waste removal fees should the three-bin system be permanently adopted.
Mr Dawson encouraged local governments to apply for funding to introduce the threebin FOGO system.
“Moving to a three-bin collection system does improve the quality and quantities of waste diverted from landfill. But moving to three bins with food organics will significantly improve our diversion,” he said.
WALGA president Lynn Craigie said the State Government offered just $30 per household to implement the three-bin FOGO system.
“The cost of implementation is at least three times that amount,” she said.
“This funding shortfall again highlights the need to allocate 100 per cent of all monies collected through the waste levy to be applied to strategic waste management outcomes, and not the meagre 25 per cent that is currently allocated.”