WE ALL create waste, whether it be an analogue television to throw out, leftover food scraps, empty milk cartons, discarded packaging, a dead mobile telephone, garden prunings or a piece of broken furniture.
Getting rid of it costs money and cumulatively takes space – and as a service conducted by local councils, “waste management” is an expensive item paid for through rates and charges, whether it is via landfill deposits, transfer station drop-offs, ‘home detox’ collections, public rubbish bins or recycling processes.
So regardless of whether you do or don’t get a municipal kerbside garbage collection service, if you live, do business or work in South Gippsland Shire, there is probably something in the Council’s Draft Waste Management Strategy (Draft WMS) that affects you.
Council was briefed on the Draft WMS at an open session last Wednesday with a joint presentation by its Waste Management Coordinator Geoff McKinnon and its WMS consultant, Senior Environmental Scientist Dave Garner of Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment Pty Ltd.
Consideration of endorsement of the Draft WMS for public exhibition is scheduled to take place at Council’s April 27 meeting.
Assuming endorsement, a 28-day public exhibition period will follow.
Feedback received from the exhibition period will be considered and the WMS potentially revised accordingly, with a final version put to the July 27 Council meeting for adoption.
So keep an eye out for the public consultation and have your say either in support, modification or objection, because the Strategy’s implications will affect you.
Remember to make suggestions on any perceived omissions in the WMS – for example improvements to waste collection from non-residential properties or additional links to Council’s adopted Sustainability Strategy.
The Strategy plans ways for Council to move the community from its current situation of recycling 44% of its wastes to a level of 65% recycled, with no increase in the amount of waste disposed per person over time and relatively slow population growth.
From a list of 41 actions proposed in the strategy, 14 relate to potential new or expanded services, namely:
· Extension of the current ‘urban’ kerbside collection to include Venus Bay and Walkerville.
· Extension of kerbside collection into rural areas where surveys evidence desire for the service.
· Change the standard household garbage bin to an 80-litre bin and charge extra for those who wish to retain the current 120-litre. [Note no change proposed in WMS to non-residential service with 120- and 240-litre bins].
· Co-contract waste management services with neighbouring Councils to expand accessible services, economies of scale and to obtain group bargaining power.
· Introduce kerbside green waste collection alongside existing kerbside collection services, probably on a fortnightly basis.
· Include organic kitchen waste collection from residential properties in kerbside services.
· Support home composting activity
· Introduce collection service for food wastes from commercial premises.
· Introduce eWaste [electronic waste] collection/recovery through State Government ‘Byteback’ program which has not yet been announced.
· Operate ‘Reuse Shops’ at one or two transfer stations for re-sale of salvageable items, possibly via social enterprises.
· Recycle metal and stuffing from dumped mattresses instead of placing in landfill.
· Divert public litter bin contents from landfill to Material Recovery Facilities.
· Provide recycling bins in high use/high pedestrian use public places.
· Diversion of recyclable material from [yet-to-be-commenced] booked hard waste service collections.
COSTINGS, TRIALS, APPROVALS
Until each of these actions has been investigated, costed and put to Council for approval to implement, nothing new will proceed.
At the briefing session, this was a sensitive point with Cr David Lewis who contended that even to suggest investigation of an option meant that the community would have expectations of it being undertaken, making Council “compelled to go on a path” that had ongoing costs.
In response, Mayor Cr Warren Raabe noted that Cr Lewis “set Council on a path” when he successfully prompted Council to reconsider provision of a form of hard rubbish collection.
Cr Raabe and Director Community Services Jan Martin both reiterated that Council would not be locked into anything and costings would be provided before a decision was made.
Consequently, many actions could not be commenced until the next financial year or later budgets.
A number of the options would also be tied to other changes – such as introduction of green waste disposal fees – or the success or implementation of other actions – such as aligning waste management contract dates and conditions to match those of nearby municipalities.
Various community education options and service trials are also proposed to be investigated, including home composting training operated through community groups, testing out green waste kerbside collection in Leongatha/Korumburra, and introduction of community ‘waste awards’.
SAVINGS AND POWER
Given progressively rising landfill fees imposed by State Government, many of the possible actions are likely to offer net savings to Council by means of significantly reducing the amount of material getting buried at tips as Council-led recycling options become available, easy and habitual practices across the community.
For example 49.3% of household waste going into Council’s landfill is either recyclable green waste or organic material, even though the municipality’s households (with kerbside collection) perform better than the State average at correct sorting practices for separating recyclable plastics/paper/cardboard and have a ‘recycling bin contamination rate’ lower than the ‘acceptable five per cent’ level.
On the other hand, the average household with kerbside collection in South Gippsland Shire generates slightly more waste annually – 485 kilograms – than the state average, which is 472 kg per annum.
At the briefing, Councillors noted that they wanted to remind the community that landfill operation permit fees were increasing rapidly and outside of the control of Local Government.
Options such as commencing eWaste recycling were also explained as being outside of Council’s control because the State Government had not yet commenced its roll-out and giving “mixed messages” according to Mr. Garner.
Further, urban areas would receive the service before rural ones even though areas such as South Gippsland were being changed from analogue to digital television service by the end of June and consequently many old televisions were already being discarded.
Other options, such as extending the kerbside collection services, would be only be provided on the same basis as the existing services, which operate on full cost recovery paid for by the service users through the annual garbage charge issued with the rate notice.
Council’s Draft WMS is also bound by legal, environmental and public health requirements, again beyond Council’s control to modify.
For any inquiries at this stage about the Draft WMS, contact Council’s Director Community Services Jan Martin on 5662 9820 or lobby ward councillors well before the April 27 meeting.