Saturday, 9 February 2013

Garbage in Carwoola (Palerang section)

Our Council ran a Survey a year or so back about setting up a kerbside recycling service, as the previous system of picking up from a cluster of bins was not working, due to excess demand for the facility.  In responding to that Survey some folk apparently suggested that a roadside service should also be established for general garbage.  My views on this matter are expressed in a letter to the Mayor (Pete Harrison) and another Councillor who lives nearby.

Dear Councillors
 I recently received a letter from the Council regarding a proposed roadside garbage collection in the Carwoola area.  I have completed the form enclosed with the letter and returned it as requested.  In view of the many issues raised by this proposal (and I cannot find a positive) I consider it useful to provide you with more detailed comments than were possible on the form.
 A first point is that for my (2 person) household the service is unnecessary.  We accumulate a 240l bin full of garbage about once every 3 months (not 2 weeks) when we drop it off at the tip.  Once a year we also take a trailer load of material (which would not fit in a roadside collection) to the tip.  I presume that some form of waste transfer facility will replace the tip and we could continue our arrangement at less cost than proposed for the roadside system.
Secondly, there is already a least one commercially available service in the area, used by many residents.  If people have more garbage than us, they can use that service: they pay for it but we, as non-users of the service, do not.  Under the Council plan we have to pay whether we use it or not, and in effect will subsidise the wasters.  There is also a question about compensation for the operators of the current service: if I was them I would certainly be seeking some redress for the Council using its compulsory powers to run them out of business.  (In making that statement I am assuming that if the Council decides to implement a scheme it will not be voluntary: we will have to pay for it regardless of whether we use it or not.  Should that not be the case I’d suggest the Council could not compete with the existing business in an economically positive way.)
Third is my view that Council should be discouraging waste not facilitating it, which seems to be the case by offering a cheap collection service. My memory (I have posted the form and there isn’t a copy on the Council website – a problem in itself) is that the impost for the garbage collection is lower than that for the recycling.  That seems counter-intuitive: the Council should be able to gain revenue from selling the recyclables.  (see below for more on this).
I am also concerned about the very limited amount of information about the use of the tip, and thus what the impact of the proposed scheme will be.  The Survey by the Council simply asked if one was in favour of the new service or not. It should also have sought information about the quantity of waste (by type of waste ) people currently dispose of, and how they do this. At present, as far as I am aware, all Council can know is that ‘n’ cubic metres of stuff appears at the tip each week, with no knowledge of where in the Shire it comes from and no idea what proportion of this could be handled by the proposed service.
A final point is that adding a further set of bins will reduce the pleasant rural appearance of the area.  This is not only on collection day, when the roads resemble a Dalek convention, but all the time since most folk leave the bins near their gates and fill them from household bines as they go out.  It is well known that losing the beauty of an area is a major way of reducing pride in the area and thus lowering concern for maintaining its values.  That should not be allowed to happen to Carwoola.
It is instructive to compare the proposed service with the recycling collection.  The main reason (IMHO) for the introduction of the recycling service was that the old centralised service was not keeping up with demand leading to “stuff” being left around the bins which was both unsightly and difficult for the contractors to deal with.  There was also a fair loss of amenity to the folk who lived near the bins with the noise of the material being dumped off by all in the area.  In terms of our personal use of the recycling system we generate about half a bin every two weeks (ie about 3 times the volume of non-recyclable crud).  In contrast there is no evidence of residents of the area (as opposed to itinerants) dumping trash beside the roads and no one is subject to localised noise (other than possibly very sensitive residents of Elmslea, but I suspect the tip was there first).
I have sent this to you as being Councillors I feel most likely to be interested in the matter.  You are welcome to pass the message on to other Councillors or Council staff as you wish.
 Yours Sincerely
  Martin A Butterfield
9 February 2013
This has now been sent around the local Landcare Group, asking that they make sure Councillors are aware of their views.  Hopefully they will share my view on the matter!  Updates will be posted.

The Mayor responded very quickly (as usual).  His key point was to encourage people in the area to participate in the Survey (as will happen with the Landcare circulation and hopefully this.

The other Councillor also responded quickly agreeing with some of my points but disagreeing with the relative costings.  In this he was correct since I got it wrong.  The costs were spelt out in the letter from the Council rather than the Survey form.  These are:

  • The recycling costs $89 per year (and this will continue).
  • If a 240l fortnightly collection was undertaken this would be included in the waste disposal element of the rates at the same rate as the towns and villages.;
  • If a 140l weekly collection was introduced there would be an extra charge of $42 per year.

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