AN online petition with 2500 resident signatures is calling on the Mildura Rural City Council MRCC to collect its red-lidded general waste bin weekly.
After the introduction of the green waste bin last year, the red bin collection changed to fortnightly.
The ‘Weekly spoke to MRCC manager of Parks and Waste Services, Matt George about the petition, which he said Council was aware of.
“Council receives petitions from time to time and we have a process in place in regard to how we respond to that,” Mr George said.
“We have certainly seen the petition and what it is calling for, namely for the red bin to go back to a weekly collection cycle.
“From our perspective this is about the whole waste management system. It’s very easy to say ‘make the red bin weekly’ but it’s more complex than that.
“The overall goal of what we are trying to achieve is reducing waste to landfill. And as a result, reducing the impact of burying waste to the environment.
“We look at the collection system in totality which is delivering the highest diversion rate from landfill.
“That includes the weekly 240-litre food and garden organics bin (green bin) and the fortnightly recycling collection (yellow bin) and the fortnightly rubbish collection (red bin).”
Mr George said that the industry standard says that Council should aim to achieve 70 per cent diversion from landfill from kerbside services.
“During the past 12 months we have actually achieved 74 per cent and therefore we have exceeded ‘best practice’ which is fantastic,” he said.
“In terms of talking raw numbers, through the introduction of the green bins, we have diverted 11,550 tonnes from going into landfill in 12 months alone − that’s 1000 tonnes a month which is huge.
“We actually do audits which involves tipping out the contents of 1000 bins − rubbish, green waste and recycling bins − selected from all different locations within urban, rural and commercial, and they sort through every bit of rubbish and classify it.
“That was carried out in April this year and what we actually found out is, in the red bin on average, there is still 57 per cent of its contents that could go into different bins.
“The biggest problem we have is that 27 per cent of the red bin is food waste that should be in the green bin.
“In saying that, it isn’t about being critical of the community. The fact is, the diversion rate is fantastic. However, we just have to get the message out there more often around diverting the food waste.”
Mr George said that people understand the ‘garden part’.
“That’s the easy bit − the lawn clippings and things like that, but not the food,” he said.
“That 57 per cent is made up of 24 per cent food scraps, five per cent garden organics and nine per cent of other organics, for example soiled cardboard.
“Interestingly, 19 per cent of the contents of the red bin can still go into the recycling bin.
Mr George said that an important point to make was that the argument isn’t over the provision of the green bin.
“People generally think that’s a good thing. The discussion is always around the red bin going fortnightly,” he said.
“No one calls up to say they want a green bin, but occasionally we have people call up to say they want the red bin collected more often or a larger one,” he said.
“One of the key points to recognise is that recycling has been in this community for more than 20 years (having been introduced in the year 2000) and people are still learning how to do it after two decades. That makes it a long-term game.
“We have to do better with the diversion of waste from landfill, because generations after us will keep paying the price for our mismanagement now if we don’t get it right.
“The goal is reducing waste from landfill and we have a system that does that as best as we possibly can and we continue to work with the community to educate them on how to use it best.”
It seems that the key to the three bin system is for people to sort their waste before they go to their bins.
One idea people can do is to have two kitchen tidies in the house − one for food scraps and green bin designated waste, and another for general rubbish and recycling items like bottles and cans can be taken straight to the yellow bin.
“Once you go to your bin your decision is made about where it’s going,” Mr George said.
“The way to do it, is to sort it as you produce it and that’s where you make your good decisions.
“We are 12 months into the three bin program and it’s just going to take some time for people to get used to it.”
Mr George said that Council recognise that there are always situations where additional bins are required.
“There is a policy in place that caters for that,” he said.
“If for example you have two or more children in nappies, you are eligible to purchase an additional 120-litre bin at a cost of about $114 a year.”
There are three circumstances in which people can purchase an additional bin. To be eligible people need to meet the following certain criteria.
1. Have two or more children in nappies,
2. Medical needs clause: A medical condition that produces more waste for example adult incontinence products, or,
3. Large families clause: Seven or more people in the household.
ABOVE: MRCC Manager of Parks and Waste Services, Matt George with Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley when she toured the waste management site at the Council’s landfill site in May this year.