Greater Shepparton could have had a hugely successful rollout of the compulsory green bin collection, but failed to consult adequately. This is disappointing, because Greater Shepparton houses a best practice aerobic organics facility in Western Composting, which is licenced to expand, creating industry and jobs. Not only does the green bin remove hazardous methane and leachate from Cosgrove Landfill, which is beneficial for the environment and potentially reduces EPA costs, but we are turning organics into a product that adds value to soil. I’d have been happy to hang my hat on this initiative had it been done better.
The green bin initiative was snuck into the annual budget as a compulsory service, without a Councillor resolution. Contracts were signed and bins delivered, prior to adopting an official policy. Blind Freddy could see we required months of education leading up to the service, which we failed to do. Therefore, I attempted to amend the policy to make this an opt-out, voluntary service, which would have avoided bad PR from those in strong opposition. I also tried to reduce the existing green bin fee of $55, due to savings in economy of scale, but unfortunately the price has crept up to $88.
Unfortunately (again), I was the only Councillor willing to explore a better outcome the community would accept. Green bins are great. I sit my caddie next to the sink and use the handle to prop up the lid when disposing of scraps. Meat and onions are not ideal for composting, so it should be a practical service everyone can utilise.
Below is an except from a report on a recent MAV conference The Future of Local Food 2016
‘Overcoming barriers to effective kerbside garden and food organics recovery’, WENDY BUCK, COUNCILLOR, MOIRA SHIRE COUNCIL AND CHAIR OF GV WASTE AND RESOURCE RECOVERY GROUP
Wendy is a colleague of mine, both as a Councillor and as board member of the GVWRRG. Moira were the first to roll out their compulsory kerbside organics collection as part of the SV grant of $550,000. They did a vast amount of preliminary community consultation to ensure people knew what to do with the kitchen caddie system and which bags to use.
Dr Karl was the face of the ‘Back to Earth’ campaign and the champion for organics across Shires. The team spoke face to face with residents, community groups and school children. They also set up demonstration models at every Council location they could. To date, Moira have the lowest contamination record amongst all member Councils.
Wendy stated reinforcing the message is important. Moira uses promotional competitions, $200 cash giveaways and garden makeover prizes. They also created a smart phone app for information, bin night reminders and waste statistics. Enforcement of quality control is equally important, so residents don’t become complacent.
Wendy said offering free biodegradable purple bags is KEY – “The day those bags are no longer free is the day people will switch bags and contamination rates increase”. Also important is education regarding odour, pest management and the frequency of bin emptying. As a Councillor, many people have approached me with these issues, which is concerning, given every person who stops complying with the service is 3 times harder to re-engage.