Majority ignored on bin collection changes

November 17, 2023 BY

Seeing red: Kerbside general waste collection is set to be halved in the City of Ballarat following a decision by a majority of councillors, despite many in the community wanting the current system to remain. Photo: FILE

WHILE changes to the City of Ballarat’s general waste collection frequency were approved at last month’s council meeting, the move came despite most survey respondents wanting weekly waste collection to continue.

Of the more than 5000 people who responded to the Sorting Our Waste survey conducted between March and April of this year by municipal staff, 45 per cent of people wanted weekly waste and fortnightly food organics and garden organics, or FOGO, collection.

In comparison, 40 per cent wanted weekly FOGO and fortnightly waste collection.

Mayor Cr Des Hudson said that despite public feedback, changing the frequency of general waste collection was essential to creating better environmental outcomes.

“We had to look at what’s going to achieve the greatest benefit and what’s going to achieve the greatest behaviour change that we need to generate less rubbish,” he said.

“Change is always difficult for people to come to terms with and I think we all like to keep doing what we do.

“I think if the red bin was to be collected weekly, people would continue to do what they’re doing now.”

Couples with no children and single person households were the highest proportion of respondents who voted for fortnightly waste collection.

The more people there were in a household, the more likely respondents were to vote for more frequent waste collection.

Feedback from to the Sorting Our Waste survey was combined with more than 2000 responses from a Kerbside Transition survey that asked people how they felt about current waste and recycling services.

It’s argued that the option passed by councillors is the most environmentally friendly, and could lead to an estimated reduction of 5000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

It is also the cheapest of the three options, estimated to cost ratepayers an extra $16 per year.

Despite the fact a FOGO provider is yet to be secured, Cr Hudson said pricing estimates are unlikely to fluctuate significantly.

“I hope that those prices are fairly consistent based on the costs that have occurred in other locations,” he said.

“We need to be mindful it’s a really tough financial environment at the moment where cost of living pressures are very real.”

However, some are arguing the decision by a majority of City of Ballarat councillors to halve the volume of municipal general waste collection is shortsighted and doesn’t consider special needs and circumstances.

Local resident Fiona McMillan has a medical condition which creates a high volume of waste and she’s concerned with the changes.

“I have an ongoing chronic illness which produces a lot of waste as I get dressings put on three times a week,” she said.

“When all this happened, I had to get another bin service as one bin just wasn’t enough even though we recycle as much as we can.”

Ms McMillian urged councillors to consider all members of the population when making decisions.

“I think council needs to consider all possibilities not just the average person,” she said. “I’m not the only one with a medical condition and they need to consider all scenarios.”

Cr Hudson said that for instances like this, City of Ballarat staff will work with residents to ensure there is no hardship.

“We want to be openminded to these cases and take each case on its merit,” he said.

“What we don’t want is to see is people subjected to significant hardship when they are living life that is already complex.

“We want to be compassionate in what we are trying to implement.”