After enticing select city businesses away from using bins, the City of Melbourne is working on a plan to start charging for use of its four garbage compactors.
The compactors each cost about $100,000 to buy and cost a further $150,000 a year to operate. And last year the council determined to buy and install a further three compactors by June, 2018. The council also operates six recycling hubs.
But the “free ride” for businesses which have ditched their bins in favour of the free service is coming to an end.
On February 16, the Future Melbourne Committee authorised council officers to devise a cost-recovery model, which is to be brought back to the committee in June.
CBD residents are plagued by an almost constant nightly invasion of noisy garbage trucks from 36 different waste and recycling companies registered with the council.
The council acknowledges the issue is as much about amenity and noise but, rather than attempting to rationalise and regulate the number of CBD operators, it thinks it can fix the problem by installing more compactors.
It claims that waste from each compactor, collected up to six times per week, can replace more than 100 individual collections.
At the February 16 meeting, engineering services manager Geoff Robinson displayed maps showing that some businesses were willing to carry their garbage several blocks to take advantage of the free service.
He said the other reason for the willing adoption of the service was enforcement of a local law preventing bins being left outside.
“Businesses can choose to engage an alternative provider, but local law provisions require that they store their bin on their property outside of collection times,” Mr Robinson reported.
Environment chair, Cr Arron Wood, said: “We can’t keep paying for them forever and a day without some sort of cost recovery.”
Cr Cathy Oke said the council also needed to look at the financial sustainability of the operation.
The council currently operates a compactor in Lacey Place. It operates both compactors and recycling hubs at Kirks Lane, Caledonian Lane and Bullens Lane as well as recycling hubs in Degraves St and Brien Lane.
It is planning another two compactors/recycling hubs in Chinatown, another in “Central Little Collins” and a further compactor in the Degraves part of Flinders Lane.