Is it time for a Conversation

Tell me what you think of the following article which appeared in Adelaide Now this morning?

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SUBURBAN councils want residents to accept fortnightly rubbish pick-ups to save money and encourage recycling.

Two waste management authorities, which collect rubbish for more than 350,000 Adelaide residents, say there is less need to collect domestic rubbish weekly because not all ratepayers fill their general waste bin.

Three mayors agree that fortnightly collections is the way of the future, saying the State Government should re-think laws that make it mandatory for general rubbish to be picked up weekly.

Holdfast Bay Mayor Ken Rollond suggested a six-month trial during the colder months, when the stench of bins was likely to be less of a problem.

Local Government Association communications director Chris Russell said a move to fortnightly collections would add “further impetus for people to ensure all recycling and green waste material was removed from landfill bins.

“But we need to address the issues that have come up previously – such as the smell of a bin that hasn’t been emptied for two weeks – before moving forward with any changes.” he said.

Mr Russell said other council measures, such as the use of small kitchen caddies and corn-starch bags, were also encouraging recycling.

East Waste acting general manager Trevor Hockley agreed.

“Eventually, waste could be picked up fortnightly and it would help cut costs and encourage others to recycle – and there’s no question it could also save money,” he said.

“Most households would get by, but (in) circumstances where it might not work, where there is a large family, for example, there needs to be exceptions.

“People talk about the smell, but if you’ve got nappies, you put them in a sealed plastic bag. There are ways to manage these smells.”

East Waste is a regional subsidiary of seven councils, including Burnside, Mitcham and Campbelltown, that collects rubbish from up to 130,000 homes each week.

Northern Areas Waste Management Authority promotions and education officer Theresa Dolman, whose regional subsidiary collects 20 per cent of kerbside waste in Adelaide, said: “If we can get food scraps into the compost and garden, that’s a huge proportion of waste and what smells.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go fortnightly.”

Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter said that he was unaware of any councils wanting to explore fortnightly general waste collections.

The Government had no intention of reviewing the law that requires metropolitan councils to collect rubbish weekly, Mr Hunter said.

A fortnightly trial collection of nearly 1500 households in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs in 2009 faced resistance from ratepayers and local MPs.

SA Federation of Ratepayers and Residents Association president Kevin Kaeding believed most South Australians would be reluctant to accept a fortnightly collection.

“I imagine there would be problems in built-up spaces, especially with smell and that wouldn’t go down too well,” Mr Kaeding said.

“With a lot more consultation it is perhaps something that can work, but there needs to be more discussion.”

Marion Mayor Felicity-ann Lewis, said it was time for “our communities to have another conversation about this”.

“We want the community to tell us when they’re ready for this,” she said.

“We’ve had council rubbish audits which show the red bins are being used less, but we don’t want to get too far ahead of the game,” she said.

Salisbury Mayor Gillian Aldrige said now was not the right time to introduce it.

“I think it is the way of the future and would work for a lot of people now, but we still need to educate a lot more people before we do bring it in,” she said.

During 2010-11, almost 80 per cent of all waste in South Australia was recycled, a figure higher than any other state.

Almost half of the rubbish South Australians put in the red or blue bin is leftover food, but this is increasingly being used as compost instead.

Regional councils are exempt from the rubbish collection rules that apply to their city counterparts.

Mallala District Council has collected general waste fortnightly since 1999 and chief executive Charles Mansueto said the community had become accustomed to the change.

Alexandrina, Victor Harbor and Yankalilla councils, which contract the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority for rubbish collection, are considering the move.

Most metropolitan councils provide three bins – for organics and recyclables, which are collected fortnightly, and garbage, collected weekly.

Ms Lewis and Mr Russell agreed that rates were unlikely to be cut as the result of any savings from fortnightly bin collection.

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