As the City of Melbourne tinkers with an expensive, but minimal and piecemeal garbage compactor policy for the CBD, the number of nightly garbage trucks continues to grow.
The number of companies registered to pick up waste and recycling in the CBD now sits at 40. Back in February, when councillors were asked to endorse their engineering department’s latest extension of its compactor plan, the number was 36.
Rather than rationalising the number of companies by taking on the Victorian Waste Management Association (whose members roar through the CBD all night, every night), the council believes that increasing the number of compactors from four to seven by 2018 is the answer.
The compactors cover only a tiny proportion of the city, and the council is being highly optimistic that residents and businesses will walk up to a major-city-block-distance to use three proposed new compactors.
The council’s own research shows that its existing free-of-charge compactors are barely used in some locations. It’s Caledonian Precinct compactor is used by just 10 per cent of available businesses and its second Chinatown compactor is used by just 11 per cent of businesses.
From October 1, the council is introducing a $5 fee for each time a business or a resident drops off some garbage at these compactors. It says the fee will be waived for those already paying for a service with their rates.
The council predicts some “marginal non-compliance” and expects to lose 20 per cent patronage. To improve compactor use uptake, it intends to start enforcing its 2009 Activities Local Law, under which it is illegal to leave a bin outside for more than three hours.
Despite posting more than 13,000 letters to affected businesses, residents and property owners, only 17 people attended three drop-in information sessions. Three written submissions were received and 217 people completed an online survey.
Of these, only 33 responded to a question about the service fee model, with only nine supporting the flat fee model which the council is introducing.
Some residents warned the council that such a service would only be used if it was conveniently located. Others wanted compactor use banned at night because of the noise they make.
The Victorian Waste Management Association predicts increased illegal dumping of rubbish.
Councillors unanimously support the introduction of the $5 fee, which aims to raise $415,000 to run the compactors this financial year.
At their Future Melbourne Committee meeting of June 7, councillors were gushing in their praise for the scheme.
Cr Ken Ong said the engineering departments efforts and ideas to the council had been “exemplary”.
Cr Ong predicted that the council’s waste and recycling strategies would reduce the number of companies collecting CBD waste to “less than half a dozen in the future”.
“We have 40 companies moving around this city emptying two bins here and three bins there. Which major city in the world actually operates like that?” he asked.
Environment chair Cr Arron Wood said: “I agree completely. I think amenity is one of the big issues involved in tackling waste.”
“I love this solution. We know they (compactors) work. We know they are operating successfully in many parts of the city already.”
“The good news is that businesses support and understand the concept of cost recovery,” Cr Wood said.