MILDURA’S new Mayor and Deputy Mayor have backed keeping red bin collection fortnightly, one year after each supported calls for weekly pick-up to return.
While acknowledging the community’s struggles with the bin system, the new leaders pointed to knowledge gained during their first year as councillors to suggest fortnightly general waste was likely to stay.
Mayor Liam Wood said the council needed to do a better job of explaining the implications of shifting back to weekly collection.
Cr Wood said the rising landfill taxes charged by the Victorian Government’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) meant there would be a significant cost to more frequent red bin pick-ups.
“The information is there, there’s plenty of it, but it’s about how do we get it out to the community,” he said.
“Sometimes it needs to be condensed down to simple information.
“With the red bins, the EPA landfill taxes, they’re going up exponentially, so to portray that like ‘okay, we’ll give you back the red bin (weekly), but now your rates go up, now the EPA (costs go up)’.
“These (EPA levies) are taxes that don’t come into our community, they leave our community.
“I think enough money leaves our community right from the start, so I don’t think that’s the answer.”
Cr Power said if residents were given the right support, it was possible to maintain fortnightly red bin collection.
“Personally, I would be a fan of weekly collection, but having been on council now for a year, and having been privy to the information and the knowledge of the money saved and actually the goals that have been met,” she said.
“With further education, it might be possible to move forward with the fortnightly collection, as long as there’s good support of community members.
“Because there are a lot of parents − and they are people I deal with a lot and who are really struggling with the red bin with nappies and that sort of thing, so I can definitely see their point.
“However, I don’t think it’s as easy as just saying let’s go back to this.
“What I’d like to see is more explanation to the community and for them to actually see those figures that we’ve seen, that have made me think, ‘Okay, alright, I can see what they’re doing here’.”
Soon after being elected, Cr Wood in November last year said the council needed to listen to the “loud and clear” message from residents that general waste should be moved back to weekly collection.
Cr Power at the same time said the council had a responsibility to listen to the “overwhelming” feedback from the community.
When the comments were made, it had been widely reported that waste going to landfill had halved under the new system.
Council data, made public at the time, revealed 48 per cent of all kerbside rubbish was going into the green bins, while 28 per cent came from the red bins.
It had also been reported the EPA’s rural municipal landfill levy would be rising from $33 a tonne to $63 within two years.
A council audit earlier this year found on average about 57 per cent of items in red bins could have been placed into one of the other two bins.
By MICHAEL DI FABRIZIO