Locals have turned to dumping bags of rubbish at public parks after a statewide recycling reform has seen several councils cutting general waste bin collections in half.
Residents in Melbourne have clearly not adjusted well to the change from weekly to fortnightly collections with photos shared online showing ugly rubbish dumping grounds emerging around bins in public spaces, causing many to question the effectiveness of this particular waste management tactic.
Dean Hurlston, Vice President of Council Watch, thinks councils can do better and accused them of being lazy.
"They haven’t consulted the community or measured the volume of residents' waste [before reducing these rubbish removals]," he told Yahoo News.
Monash, Banyule, Greater Shepparton, and Bayside are just some of the councils who have moved to this new reduced service since July 2022 — much to the frustration of residents.
Waste is moved, not eliminated
As seen in photos taken by local residents, the reduction in general waste collections has not appeared to reduce the amount of household waste as intended, it's diverted it.
"It's resulting in people dumping in parks and public rubbish bins" Mr Hurlston said.
Hobson Bay Council, in Melbourne's southwest, implemented the fortnightly general waste collection in early 2020, but by late 2021, they had reverted back to weekly pick-ups following ongoing dissatisfaction and intense heated debate from locals.
A councillor from Hobson Bay Council, who has asked not to be named, spoke to Yahoo News about the impact the general waste collection frequency change had on their community.
"[During that time] an audit on park bins showed us that approximately 30% of waste in park bins was deemed residential waste, and contamination rates were high for other recycling bins. Highly contaminated recycling gets dumped", she said.
"We would receive complaints every few weeks of overflowing park bins or people dumping into businesses' bins, and, as a beachside area, you'd see excess rubbish blowing into the ocean", the councillor continued.
Since moving back to weekly collections, Hobson Bay has not seen any of these same issues.
Not feasible for everyone
The biggest concern, which is the same in Sydney's Inner West Council after their recent move to fortnightly collections, is the lack of consultation with locals — and therefore a lack of understanding of their waste needs, Mr Hurlston explained.
Families with babies or pets shared the most concern because of the potential for bad smells and rodents. The Hobson Bay Councillor admitted their family had a baby using nappies at the time [of less frequent garbage removal] and they struggled.
Waste levy generally unchanged
On top of lifting rubbish rates, some councils in Victoria are reportedly increasing their waste service levy — a separate service not included in general council rates.
According to Mr Hurlston, this levy is not being reduced even though there has been a reduction of waste collection frequency.
Victoria aim to reduce waste to landfill by 80 per cent
The change in frequency for general waste collection for some councils is part of a statewide reform of the recycling system, aiming to help the government reach its target of diverting up to 80 per cent of waste away from landfill by 2030. This reform includes the introduction of the food organics and garden organics (FOGO) bins and the four-bin waste and recycling system that began rolling out in most areas from 2022.
Do you have a story about your local council? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at email@example.com
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love Australia's weird and wonderful environment? Get our new weekly newsletter showcasing the week’s best stories.