Opinion

Poor excuse from council over mixed waste issue

The recent exposure of a Canterbury-Bankstown Council garbage truck dumping both the red and yellow lid bin in the same truck provides a salient reminder about community trust (SMH, 28 July).

The photos and videos taken by residents across the Council area show the disposal of both the yellow and red bin into one truck destined for landfill.

It doesn’t make sense for Council to allow such a practice. It puts recycling education and engagement of residents back decades. It undermines confidence in recycling for everyone. Not just Canterbury Bankstown residents but across Australia. For what?

The Mayor’s explanation is that a side load vehicle (the normal collection vehicle) cannot operate in a small laneway. So, they send a Rear End Load vehicle instead. It can reverse down the lane and workers can load bins into the rear. Fair enough. But if you can send one truck, then you can send two separately. One for the red and one for the yellow.

There are only two reasons you would send one truck rather than two:

  1. The households in those laneways are poor recyclers who contaminate their recycling bins so badly the contents need to go to landfill (in which case Council should be up-front with residents and put in place programs to fix it); or
  2. Council is just saving a bit of money by not sending a second truck.

Neither is justifiable.

Read more: Tasmanian govt expands use of recycled materials in roads

Hopefully this episode has reminded us all that kerbside recycling is a community commitment, done voluntarily and with no direct financial reward for householders. Residents do it because they want to do the right thing.

That means that we as a recycling sector need to respect that community contribution by also doing the right thing. Always.

Almost all do. So the odd outlier reflects badly on us all. Can we please try harder.

Zoe Watkins works for MRA Consulting.

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