They’re at it again – Rubbish

There are very few matters that have residents more in a lather than fortnightly rubbish collections…

If I was to write a book on Public Relations in Local Government (which I may yet do), one chapter would be written thus:


Don’t even think about them.

    Chapter 22             ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE

Every time someone in local government raises fortnightly rubbish collections, the local government haters go into overdrive, the State Government get another chance for a free kick and every day residents get upset for no good reason. Why?

Because it won’t happen for many, many years, if ever.

The abolition of slavery was inevitable, as was banning child chimney sweeps, landing a man on the moon and removal of the death penalty. I also believe that even South Adelaide will win another Premiership before fortnightly rubbish collections happen in SA.

So, this week’s thought bubble by East Waste (see article here:*), the multiple Council owned subsidiary that runs waste pickups in some of Adelaide eastern suburban Councils, wishing to explore this issue, again, is a waste of time, because:

  • It is illegal under current legislation, which this Government brought in, for Councils to collect general waste fortnightly (I support this) and the State Government is not even remotely interested in changing this;
  • Most experts in the waste management field in SA oppose fortnightly general waste collections;
  • I can’t find any everyday residents who support fortnightly general waste collections;
  • The vast majority of people in local government (elected members and staff) oppose it;
  • The weather in summer in Adelaide (or, for that matter, autumn and spring now) is so hot that fortnightly waste collections would be a public health hazard.

The touted reason for bringing in fortnightly general waste collection is that it will reduce waste to landfill. This may be the case, but there are far better ways to do it, and these other ways will happen first, even though they also may not be popular, they are workable.

For those that point out that a lot of Councils (including ours) have fortnightly green waste collection that includes food waste where people often put stinky food in (mine this week includes some fish fillets that were off when we bought them, I think), the amount of food waste is still relatively small compared to the food and other putrescible waste people put in their general waste bin.

Having spoken to literally thousands of people at their doors over the years, I meet many people who refuse to recycle, refuse to care a chit for the environment, or the problems we leave the next generation, and tell me that as far as they are concerned they are paying for a weekly general waste collection and they will put what they ****ing well want into the general waste bin.

So, unless the law changes and we fine or throw these people in gaol for putting recyclables into the general waste bin (I am not suggesting this), there will be large amounts of putrescible waste, a lot of it being what is politely termed ‘soiled’ nappies, in those weekly bins. As urban infill increases ever more, the proximity of bins to neighbours’ bedrooms & living rooms increases, and other technologies and systems are put in place, the very thought of compulsory fortnightly collections will become redundant.

So, if you are like my family, now down to 3 adults and 2 pets, and due to a combination of small household, recycling and kitchen waste going into the green bin, we choose to put our general (blue) bin out fortnightly, then well and good, but I am not expecting everyone to do that.

Also, for the record, a vote taken last year at Council showed unanimous opposition to the fortnightly general waste idea with both Councillors and staff throwing their hands up in horror at the proposal, like the priests holding crucifixes in The Exorcist.

So, East Waste, thanks a lot for raising that fortnightly collection idea, but please, bin it.

* Do not read the comments in the Adelaide Now article or you may be subject to a loss of IQ. Apart from the usual Council haters, some of the information supplied is simply not true. If you have queries, contact your Council.



  • Chris Russell

    I support your public relations advice Mark, but as a resident (of another Council area) I must say that my landfill bin has fallen to around half full each week. As a result I stare at it (briefly) wondering why I am paying to have it picked up twice as often as needs be and my neighbour tells me his family is exactly the same.

    I don’t understand why I am forced by the State to have my bin picked up weekly – particularly when the State was funding some trials in Councils at the time it changed the law! Perhaps I just need to accept I am in the minority.

    Of course we could treat people like adults and give them the option of weekly/fortnightly?

    • Thank you Chris for your reply.

      Yes, you are in the minority on this one. I suppose people have the option now of weekly/fortnightly (or longer) if they decide not to put the bin out, as you and I both do already fortnightly. I am happy to pay the extra rates to have the truck drive past my place without stopping 26 times per annum.
      My belief is that when other waste minimisation methods have been implemented and worked (such as smaller bins) that this will be revisited especially as by then I suspect the balance of the people whose bins need not be collected weekly will outstrip the ones who demand it.
      But I do not believe there is anywhere near a ‘tipping point’ for that and won’t be for many years, so that is why I rather we advance less controversial methods now. MB

      PS For those reading this who do not know who Chris Russell is, he is the Director of Communications for the Local Government Association of SA, and despite the LGA copping some flak recently, some deservedly, I can state that Chris is a leader in his profession in Adelaide, a fine man and someone I have known for over twenty years to be a professional and person of the highest integrity. He is also a nice bloke.

      • Chris Russell

        Why thanks Mark. Generous and unsolicited comments.
        I do agree with your analysis of the waste issue.

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