Food for thought. Green Waste v Landfill. It’s up to us. You & Me.

Here is some food for thought for you. Are you helping to keep the amount of waste going to landfill or not. Are you aware of “if it grows, it goes”.

Can I encourage you to undertake to understand the need to put your food scraps into the green bin, not the blue bin. If you already do, thank you.

If you don’t then I encourage you to take up one or both of the opportunities I speak of in this blog.

Taking waste to landfill is already the dearest form of waste disposal. It will soon, as I revealed in a recent blog post, be way more expensive courtesy of the State Government increasing the levy.

If you can follow my lead and the lead of all our councillors, you will start putting your food waste into the green bin. Speaking for myself I put out my blue bin maybe once every three or four weeks. If I could put my green bin our weekly (as I have previously blogged about) I would.

The first opportunity is to commit to the Less To Landfill October Challenge. This is a challenge put on by a group called the Adelaide Waste Collective.

Why not give it a go, challenge yourself. See if you can keep you blue bin off the street for the month of October. I wont have a problem doing so. Will you?

The Second opportunity is to sign up to Council’s own initiative. Join Council’s Take the Pledge Program.

Take the Pledge Green Bin

Take the Pledge Green Bin

If you join Council’s take the pledge program you’ll be in the running to win a $25 Mitre 10 Barrow & Bench – Malvern Store gift card. Join Unley’s war on waste by increasing the amount of items you recycle, and by diverting more food scraps and compostable paper to your organics bin.

You can take the pledge by completing the online form. Pledge takers will receive stickers to place on their green or yellow-lidded bin to demonstrate their commitment to reducing landfill.

Thank you and keep up the good work!

Recycling Industry Inquiry Underway

Parliament’s Environment, Resources and Development Committee is about to conduct a recycling industry inquiry.

They will investigate and report on the current crisis in waste management that exists in South Australia.

Green Bin (weekly)

Green bin every week, not the blue

They will obviously consider how China’s National Sword Policy has impacted on us.  Accordingly, they will explore how South Australia has responded to China’s recent restriction on its importation of recyclable material.

They will however also examine current policy and legislative frameworks that govern resource recovery in this State. This will hopefully examine the potential for desirable reforms.

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I suggest that the problem is not China Sword. Not directly at least. All China Sword has done is highlight a structural deficiency in our waste handling process.

The structural deficiency in our waste handling process needs to be addressed.

Rather than focus on what we can’t control, we must look into what we can control. This requires looking at what we do and what we don’t do. It requires us to determine what we can do better. It also requires us to recognise what we should stop doing.

The Environment, Resources and Development Committee will surely look at the ability of our industry to innovate. Developing an industry capable of achieving the much heralded circular economy is essential.

Whatever happens with the Recycling Industry Inquiry, we must change our kerbside collection system.

We must review the efficiency and effectiveness of the kerbside-collection three bin system. This is the foundation of our system. Get this wrong and we will not solve any problems.

Contamination of the yellow bin collections is the reason China is rejecting our waste. If we do not address this contamination we are expecting our industry to do what China can’t or won’t.

The blue bin goes to land fill and is the dearest to process. Because it is collected weekly, it encourages incorrect use.

I therefore confirm again my belief that we must focus on what we put in our bins. The green bin should be a weekly collection. If it were, items incorrectly put in the blue bin (red in some councils) would be appropriately redirected to the green bin. If it grows it goes.

Hypocritical State Government Deals Savage Blow to Local Government

Our hypocritical State Government has dealt Local Government a Savage  Blow. They have done this by raising the waste levy by 40%. Compounding this, they do it in the week Councils are due to bring down their budgets.

Green Bin (weekly)

Green bin every week, not the blue

Yes! The same hypocritical State Government who claims we (local government) are incapable of keeping council rates at an affordable level. The levy, which is paid on all dumping to land fill, has been lifted in the State budget from $ 100.00 per ton to $ 140.00 per ton. An increase of 40%.

Wait a minute, CPI for the year sits at 2.9%. This means the waste levy impost is 13 times inflation. And they tell us our rates should be capped because we are irresponsible financial mangers.

The timing could not be worse. Local Governments this week are due to confirm their annual business plans and budgets this week for the upcoming year.

 

The treasurer, unashamedly he advised at the SA Press Club luncheon today, says this will encourage Councils to be more efficient in waste reduction.

An incentive to get rubbish away from landfill. But will he be using this money to assist us. No. He will be using it to solve sand drift problems at West Beach and Henley Beach. A non waster levy issue to say the least.

There is little we can do to reduce landfill when the blue bin continues to be the bin that is picked up weekly. Until they legislate for the green bin to be picked up weekly and the blue bin fortnightly the amount going to landfill will not reduce.

 

We are now forced to conduct a last minute review of our business plan and our budget.

We now need to work out what the impact of this increase will have on us. A last minute rush to ensure it does not cause us budget grief. Once we know the impact, we will then be faced with making a decision to do one of three things:

  • Do nothing. This may be appropriate if the cost increase is not too large.
  • Reduce operating costs by an amount similar to the increase. This will mean reconsidering our priorities. This could mean significantly reducing the scope of a project or even eliminating one or more projects we were committing ourselves to.
  • Increase rates at the last minute to recover the extra.

Please keep us in your thoughts as we deal with this conundrum.

Waste collection- Fortnightly or Weekly

It seems every year the fortnightly or weekly bin debate recurs. This has been the storey dominating the media cycle today. So frequently what we continue to hear is it is all about cost saving.

Council waste binsI have entered this debate frequently in the past. Each time I have advocated that the question should not be about reducing the blue bin but about increasing the frequency of the green bin collection.

Our food stuff, the smelly stuff, the stuff that attracts ants should go in the green bin. We should therefore be talking about this bin being collected weekly. Conversely the blue bin, which goes to landfill, should be fortnightly.

In other words this should not be a debate focused on fortnightly or weekly. It should be about green verses blue.

An opinion incidentally I expressed today to Channel 9 when interviewed by chance in my own street.

We believe however and are being told the blue bin contains the smelly, ant attracting rubbish. This means that we as a society are not interested in getting biodegradable rubbish away from landfill.

It’s important to note, in spite of what you may be hearing, is that the LGA does not yet have an endorsed position on waste collection frequency. Until its member councils are consulted, the LGA cannot hold a position. This has not yet happened. All it is doing is trying to start the conversation.

The State Government must take the lead as the frequency of collections is set in their legislation. Any position that the LGA (on behalf of councils) might take, they (we) can only lobby the State Government to consider changing the collection.

Based on comments however made by both the Government and the Opposition today, it appears unlikely that there is support in Parliament for changes to the current system. This means they are not interested in taking the lead in better waste disposal.

Written & authorised by Don Palmer, 19 Kelvin Avenue, Clarence Park SA 5034

Some things have changed

For some you will have already seen the change, others must still await their turn. Green trucks are navigating our streets in lieu  of the white ones we used to see.

Yes! Council has a new Waste Contractor, Solo Resource Recovery.

In a contract that will save us all some money, waste collection being our single biggest contract. It was also good to see the drivers show more caution in navigating some of our tight streets. In recent times the drivers of our previous contractor were not observing our speed restrictions.

While this is a big change many parts of the process will not change.Check below for details of what has and what has not changed.

Big Agenda in July.

With Council about to move into caretaker mode July will prove busy with two full councils meetings on the agenda.

We will have our usual end of month meeting on the 28th. This will be preceded whoever by one on the 14th.

At the 14th meeting we will review a number of things including the review of our CEO’s performance over the last year, and more importantly the renewal of our waste collection contract.

What a Load of Rubbish – The LGA response

Fortnightly waste collection – letter to the Advertiser by the LGA

Letter submitted to the Advertiser following a misleading article regarding fortnightly waste collection

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The Advertiser ran a front page story on Saturday (2/3/13) headed (on its Adelaide Now website) “Adelaide’s suburban Councils push for fortnightly rubbish collection.”
This headline wrongly creates the impression that metropolitan Councils are currently seeking to implement fortnightly collections in opposition to a State regulation requiring weekly landfill collections.
This is simply not the case. The LGA is not aware of one Council considering this issue.
In response to questions submitted by reporter Callie Watson, the LGA advised her verbally on two occasions and via email that the issue was not currently on our agenda.
The email read in part: “The LGA has not tested the issue with metropolitan Councils since the regulation was made (2009) and Councils have not raised the issue with the LGA as a key issue since then.”
This issue was emphasised with reporter Watson as we were concerned to ensure readers understood this is an issue which is likely to come back on the agenda for debate at some point in the future but is not currently being considered.
It seems to me to be fairly fundamental to a newspaper’s role to understand the difference between a topic which is likely to come up for debate at some point in the future and one which is being actively considered – and the difference between individual Mayors, or contractors’ views and those of corporate entities such as “Councils”.
By the number of concerns expressed on Adelaide Now, via social media and by Councillors, your decision to omit this central and emphasised element of our response did confuse and mislead readers to believe this change is currently being considered.
I would like to think that the Advertiser will take responsibility to correct this confusion, perhaps as prominently as the original story, to better inform its readers.

Wendy CampanaCEO, Local Government Association of SAAdelaide

Matches my response from last week in this blog,

What a Load of Rubbish – or – a conversation we have to have?

Is rubbish collections fortnightly a load of rubbish?  Or is there a conversation we have to have?

I copied onto this blog site last week the transcript of an article from Adelaide Now and asked your thoughts on the questions posed in that article. With no response to my questions yet I found while on the road today that I could not listen to talk back radio without criticism of Council decisions to proceed with fortnightly collection of the red bin (blue in the case of the City of Unley).

The conversation today was damming of councils for making such decisions. Indeed it was two waste management authorities making the suggestion, not any Council, with three mayors supporting that we probably should be moving this way. (a future thing).

There is no such decision made that I am aware of at any Council. My understanding is we cant because it is enshrined in legislation. I heard an elected member of one council say they have not discussed it and was unaware it was on their agenda.

Same here. We have not discussed it at Unley and I am unaware that it is on our agenda. Let us be abundantly clear on that.

The debate was very much one sided with the main argument being that there are health issues with leaving food scraps in bins for two weeks. It is smelly and unhealthy was the big cry.

Interestingly only one week ago on talk back radio (not sure if it was the same station or not) the conversation was about a great idea some councils had introduced to put food scraps into a kitchen tidy and to transfer that into the green bin (note- not the red bin). This was applauded by callers and those councils providing the kitchen tidy free congratulated as encouraging responsible waste disposal. Those making a small charge for the tidy (like Unley) criticised for not making it free.

So!

Here we are…Councils applauded for encouraging food scraps into the green bin and then within a week criticised for leaving the food scraps in the red bin for two weeks when in fact they are in the green bin for — TWO weeks.

This is blatantly unfair and I admonish those in the press and the politicians making mileage out of it.

We need a conversation about waste disposal but it needs to be an informed one, and not one focused on the timing of collections. A conversation not unlike the one in the transcript rather than what happened today with political grandstanding.

Questions like the following need to be asked :

should we be putting food scraps into the green bin as we are now being encouraged to do,
should this bin be collected weekly and the red one fortnightly,
should nappies go in the bin or should we be using recyclable nappies like a number of councils (including us) proposed not that far back.
are we ready for this,
if not when are we likely to be (aren’t we heading that way now).

In signing off let me remind everyone that councils will not be doing this without consulting their ratepayers first.