House­holds hit back af­ter State ini­tia­tive to in­tro­duce fort­nightly col­lec­tions

The Sunday Times - - Recycle Reality - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN

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.”

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