When more than 350 tyres were dumped in two locations in Eaglehawk several weeks ago – within hundreds of metres from the tip – it caused outrage.
Locals who were used to everything from cars to fridges, slabs of concrete to mattresses being dumped on public land for decades said it was an appalling new low.
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But among the outraged responses from readers to a series Bendigo Advertiser articles on the illegal Eaglehawk dump was a different sentiment, that the high cost of disposing of waste at landfill was causing people to instead dump rubbish in surrounding bush.
So we put the question to our friends on Facebook. Do high tip fees contribute to illegal dumping?
State and local governments use tip fees as a price lever to reduce landfill by encouraging recycling and reuse of waste to protect the environment – but is it having the opposite effect?
Responses ranged the entire spectrum. Renee Kinross said some people would dump waste illegally no matter what the price.
“No way! Regardless of tip fees you would find many people still dumping waste as they are simply simply lazy with zero respect for anyone else,” she said.
While others, like Nathan Welch, saw a direct link.
“I’m actually surprised there's not more of it due to the ridiculous tip fees,” he said.
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The city’s acting presentation and assets director Brett Martini said Bendigo faced a particular challenge because it was surrounded by bushland, giving litterbugs the opportunity to “get away” with illegal dumping.
“But that’s no excuse,” he said.
“Most people who dump rubbish don’t do it because of the high cost of landfill, illegal dumping has been a problem that’s been around as long as there has been tip fees.”
“So it comes back to a person’s disposition – are they going to do the right thing, or are they prepared to flout the law and go and illegally dump material?”
So how do Bendigo tip fees stack up?
The Eaglehawk Landfill charges $160 per tonne for general and industrial waste, $120 per tonne for separated waste.
Getting rid of a mattress will set you back $10, a fridge, freezer or air conditioning unit $15.
Disposing of tyres ranges from $6 per car tyre to $51.50 per tractor tyre.
In comparison, dumping hard waste at the Horsham Transfer Station, for example, will cost you $145.20 per tonne.
A mattresses costs $30 and tyres range from $24 to $165. A dead animal will set you back $18 per carcass.
Mr Martini said tip fees were largely a reflection of state government landfill levies.
In 2013 – when the City of Greater Bendigo authored its Waste and Resource Management Strategy 2014–2019 – approximately $86 out of the $148/tonne gate fee charged at Eaglehawk and Heathcote Landfills went to the state and federal governments in fees and levies.
That levy has been increasing by 10 per cent each year until since.
“Federal and state governments use pricing as a mechanism to influence change or introduce more stringent regulation to achieve a desired environmental or social outcome,” the report reads.
That outcome: avoiding and minimising waste going to landfill by encouraging innovation, reuse and recycling. But is that waste going to bushland instead? Have your say.