Hard waste collection is tough nut to crack for council

December 06, 2017

Hard waste collection will be part of strategic waste discussions this month, but it appears to be a hard proposition for Greater Shepparton City Council to justify.

The push for hard waste collection — a service that would cost the council $1.7million a year to run — resurfaced at a recent meeting.

Responding to a public proposal that the council initiate a hard waste collection service, the council’s chief executive Peter Harriott last month said consideration would be given to a revised draft waste strategy during this month’s briefings.

The idea would remain part of discussions around an updated strategy, set to go out to public exhibition in the new year.

But at the meeting, Mr Harriott sketched out reasons why councils had moved away from hard waste programs and identified the risks associated with them.

‘‘For reasons of risk and cost, many councils have ceased providing hard waste collection services,’’ he said.

He pointed to unsafe piles of waste, potentially hazardous materials, scavenging on nature strips, the possibility of waste being strewn across roads, poor aesthetics and associated fire hazards.

Mr Harriott added such a service reduced incentives to recover, recycle and reuse, and the cost to transport, sort and process the hard waste collected kerbside was estimated in the order of $1.7million.

This takes into account collection of about two cubic metres of waste per property and 80 per cent take-up of the service.

Following up, questioners said two free waste disposal tickets per year were issued with rates notices pre-amalgamation and that homeowners had at the time been entitled to hard waste collection at the council’s expense.

Mr Harriott said the council deployed a user-pays system at its resource recovery centre to ensure ‘‘the provision of waste services is accessible, affordable and sustainable in the long term’’.

He conceded that while tickets would allow users to dispose of minimal waste at no charge, the council still needed to cover the processing costs.

‘‘Councils that provide tickets would normally recover this cost by increasing the annual waste charge,’’ he said.

‘‘This means that all residents that pay rates contribute to the cost of the tickets even if they do not use them.’’

Mr Harriott estimated that recovering processing costs through annual rates instead of a user-pays system could cost about $70 per year per property, to recover about $1.5million.

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