WELLINGTON Shire Council has rejected a suggestion by a local woman that it implement free green waste disposal year-round.
Stratford resident Vanessa Reed called for free disposal of green waste in the shire to help reduce fire risks, receiving strong support on the Gippsland Times Facebook page.
Ms Reed said people would be more inclined to clean up their properties, reducing fuel loads, if green waste disposal was free.
“As it is now, properties appear neglected or sport burn piles as people gather their green waste in wait for May 1 when they can burn off,” Ms Reed wrote.
“Surely we should be doing all we can to encourage fuel reduction.”
Ms Reed suggested council sell the mulch it made from green waste to offset costs.
“The remaining costs would be negligible compared with the loss of life and property seen after bushfire,” Ms Reed said.
She said there were numerous burn piles building up around towns which posed real fire risks.
Ms Reed said she recently took two loads to the tip at $24 per load, and now had five loads sitting in a paddock on the outskirts of Stratford.
“This pile is due to the hammering my property got during the recent rain and wind storms,” she said.
Ms Reed said other property owners were also stockpiling green waste to burn when permitted, as disposal could cost well over $100.
One Facebook user commented “I completely agree; we live in a very high fire danger area and some people just can’t afford the fees.
“I spent $40 on two trips the other week.”
Another said they had been requesting green waste bins for many years, saying people would be more inclined to keep their properties clean if they had them.
“I for one would be very happy to pay to have a green waste bin,” the property owner added.
Wellington Shire Mayor Cr Carolyn Crossley said Wellington Shire Council offered an annual no charge green waste disposal weekend to help residents with fire clean-up activities.
She said last year, that weekend cost ratepayers about $55,000.
“In future years, we may indeed investigate the financial implications of running more than one no-charge green waste disposal weekend,” she said.
Cr Crossley said the shire currently mulched and reused green waste, sending it for composting at the Dutson Soil and Organic Recycling Facility.
“The potential for weed contamination or disease in mulch generated from green waste prevents it from being on-sold by council or our waste management contractor,” she said.
Cr Crossley said the collection of green waste was last discussed in 2009 by council when the current waste management contact was awarded and that contract would remain in place until 2019.
“Council’s key consideration at the time was that not every town needed a green waste service, which impacted negatively on the business case,” she said.
“If we provided a green waste collection service to all interested properties, the cost to those ratepayers would most likely be similar to a number of privately owned services, which are already available in Wellington.”
She said if council decided to offer a green waste collection at a cost to individual users, any benefit of such a service would have to outweigh the negative effects that would be caused to existing commercial services.
“There are public health reasons why domestic rubbish services are provided in our main town areas,” she said.
“Reasons for a green waste service are not as strong which, when combined with the costs and impact on local business, were the reasons why it was not included in the current waste management contract.”
Some Facebook followers also cautioned against calls for a ‘free’ green waste service, saying rates would likely increase.
“Nothing is ever free as it is paid through your pocket through rates,” one Facebook follower said.
Another agreed that other shires which had ‘free’ green waste were not actually providing a free service.
“It’s included in the rates; you pay extra in your rates for the service,” she said.
“If you’re renting, the owner pays for it.
“It’s not actually free.”