City coy on organics extension

The City of Greater Bendigo is undecided on an extension of its organics collection service, despite the apparent popularity of the service within urban Bendigo. 

The city on Tuesday released results of a survey, which suggested 74 per cent of the 900-plus respondents were happy with the fortnightly service. 

Just six per cent of those surveyed said they were not using the service. 

City of Greater Bendigo director presentation and assets, Craig Lloyd, said a service extension would depend on cost and rural appetite for the service, both of which were yet to be determined. 

Around 38,011 urban residents have an organics service, while 3500 applied for an exemption to the service – 2,989 of which were granted. 

The service roll out in September caused consternation among some residents, who were unhappy at the additional $63 per year in rates they had to pay for the new service.

Mr Lloyd suggested there was a misconception that a portion of the population were unhappy with the current service. 

The city would comfortably hit its 12-month target of 12,000 tonnes of organic waste from when the service was rolled out in September.

That tonnage diverted from landfill would save the council $744,000 in Environmental Protection Authority levy fees. 

Residents were on balance using the organic bins correctly, however commonly misplaced items were animal faeces and plastic bags, Mr Lloyd said. 

The city has done a bin audit, the results of which will be published in the coming weeks, and Mr Lloyd said the levels of contamination of the organic bins were very low, meaning residents were generally putting the right things in.

It is unclear how much it costs to provide the organic service, however in the council’s 2017-18 budget, its estimated waste services costs are $18.5 million – far greater than the $5.8 million it expects to recoup in waste service fees.

Elmore Progress Association president Meg Doller anticipated the local reaction to an organics collection service would be as mixed as it is in urban Bendigo. 

“There are certainly people who would be keen to see them, but there will be other people with larger blocks of land that do a lot of the composting themselves,” she said. 

As yet the association has not had discussions with the City of Greater Bendigo, but Ms Doller said the group was “open” to talks. 

The Elmore community plan 2015 does suggest the town should advocate for a green waste collection service, Ms Doller said, adding the plan will be updated next year.

“Bendigo's waste issues going into the future are serious and we need to look into waste management,” she said.

The city will make a decision on an extended service as part of its waste review, expected to be completed by the end of 2017.