Council set to slap residents with $660 fine for recycling fail

A Victorian council is getting tough with residents refusing to follow recycling guidelines by hitting them with fines of up to $660 while also removing their bins in the process.

Metropolitan Melbourne council Mornington Peninsula Shire has revealed its new Waste Contamination Plan to crack down on people who contaminate their bins with the wrong waste.

Victoria has been plagued by a recycling crisis in recent years, with contaminated recycling, such as cardboard peppered with broken glass or plastic bags wrongly placed in the recycling bin, causing extensive problems in the processing phase.

"Unfortunately, contamination continues to be a major issue here on the Peninsula," the council said in a statement on Monday.

Mornington Peninsula residents will have their recycling bins (pictured left) inspected randomly by council. Source: Mornington Peninsula Shire
Mornington Peninsula residents will have their recycling bins (pictured left) inspected randomly by council. Source: Mornington Peninsula Shire

"If we don’t get our recycling right we will end up contaminating the bin or truck, making our recyclables go to landfill."

Contaminated bins cost council around $600K

Mayor Despi O'Connor said contaminated bins cost the council around $600,000 every year.

She said one of the most common mistakes from residents was not washing food containers before placing them in their recycling bins.

Mornington Peninsula Shire will inspect residents' bins at random, either via kerbside inspections or through the use of cameras inside trucks.

Those found to have contaminated their bins will be instructed to remove the items for collection the following week.

Fines will be issued to residents on their third offence over a six-month period.

A spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia from July 1 the Environment Protection Act will be the relevant legislation in use for the plan, and while the fine amount has yet to be finalised, it could be up to $660.

Current fines stand at $330 for such offences.

Repeat offenders could also lose their disposal privileges with their bins removed for three months on a fourth offence. They will only be allowed to have the service returned after signing a pledge and attending a recycling education class.

If they fail to do so, they could face losing their bins indefinitely.

It is the latest tactic used by councils to try and improve recycling compliance. In 2018, one WA council introduced see-through bins to shame any residents doing the wrong thing.

Locals react to council's new recycling rules

Dozens of puzzled residents took to social media in the wake of the announcement, questioning how effective such a scheme would be.

Many said they could not be held accountable for their waste as neighbours and others place items in their bins.

Despite Ms O'Connor insisting the region has received ample education on recycling, including via the council's website, some suggested many residents still didn't know which items could and couldn't be put in their recycling bins.

"You need a bachelor of science these days to know what is apparently recyclable, it’s not our job to seperate 65 things a day," one person wrote.

Others were far more critical, with one Facebook user calling the decision "embarrassing".

A minority welcomed the scheme and even suggested rewarding well-behaved recyclers with cheaper council rates.

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