BRUNSWICK residents will be able to change their new household recycling rubbish bins to a smaller model free of charge following a backlash over the size of the new bins – but they will have to wait five months.
At 240 litres, the new bins which have been delivered in the Brunswick area over the past week by Merri-bek Council staff are twice the size of the previous yellow lid recycling bins.
Angry residents say they did not ask for a super large bin and will struggle to fill it and find room on their property to store it along with the new 120 litre glass recycling bin to be delivered next month.
The old bins are being replaced as part of the long-heralded introduction of the new four bins policy, mandated by the Victorian Government. Major changes to weekly rubbish collection will begin in the middle of the year, while the twice-year hard rubbish collection has already been replaced by a booking system.
Currently, both general rubbish and recycling are collected weekly, while green and organic waste is collected fortnightly.
The new policy will see plastic, paper and aluminium rubbish collected once a fortnight, glass once a month and both general rubbish and green waste every week.
The changes have been in the works for two years, but the delivery of the large new bins seems to have caught many residents by surprise.
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Retiree Margaret Ludowyk, who lives on her own in a town house in Warne Street with little space out front, said she was overwhelmed at the size of the new recycling bin and was unsure how she would store it.
“This 240L bin won’t fit in my garage unless I move my car out,” she said.
“I only put my recycling bin out every few weeks so don’t need such a large one … My neighbours are similarly overwhelmed.
“I would like an 80 litre bin available for each of the four bin types, then I have a chance of squeezing them into my garage.
“I can see that in the next few months there’ll be a lot of bins out on the footpaths permanently. I really don’t want four garbage bins on my front doorstep.”
Other residents echoed her concerns.
“As a single person household I think the size of the new bins is awful and do hope there will be an option to reduce to smaller bins in August,” said De Carle Street resident Carolyne Cohn.
“On my small front yard the smaller three bins dominate and the new bin is just an eyesore and most of my clearances will have less than a dozen things in it. Heaven help me if I have to try and retrieve anything from the bottom of the bin – I may be disposed of along with the bin!”
Some residents say their requests for smaller 80 litre bins were either ignored or they were told it was too late.
Some other Victorian councils have backflipped on changes to rubbish collection in the face of pressure from ratepayers.
Margaret Ludowyk says she will be requesting a smaller bin.
Anita Curnow, Merri-bek Council’s Director of City Infrastructure, said households would be able to change bins for no cost, but not until after August.
Ms Curnow said the reason why the bins were so large was to provide the same capacity for recycling that households already have.
She said the council had ordered new bins for 70,000 households and due to the high demand from municipalities across Victoria and the urgency of placing its order, had been unable to gather information from residents about their preferences in advance.
“At the moment people have 120 litres every week and once the new service starts in July it will be 240 litres every fortnight so overall it’s the same capacity,” she said in response to a question at the council meeting on Wednesday night.
“This will get us through the commencement of the new service and allow residents to test for themselves how much they fill up their recycling bin, particularly having a glass bin as well and see what difference that makes.
“If it’s clear to residents that a small bin would be more appropriate, they will be able to swap over once within 12 months without a changeover fee.”
The changes are aimed at increasing recycling and reducing waste going to landfill.
The state government has set a target of diverting 80% of waste from landfill and cutting total waste generation by 15% by 2030 through an increase in councils’ landfill levy and the introduction of a container deposit scheme, for glass, plastic and aluminium drink containers by mid-2023.
Council modelling suggests that switching the food and garden waste collection to a weekly pickup could cut the amount of rubbish going to landfill by about 40% also reducing carbon emissions.
By switching to a weekly food and garden waste collection, and reducing the garbage collection to once a fortnight, Merri-bek Council believes it could divert an extra 6000 tonnes from landfill each year.
There are likely to also be further increases in household waste charges in the 2023-24 financial year after the average cost per household rose by 11% in the current year and 25% in 2021-22.
In anticipation of confusion about the new four bin system, the Brunswick Neighbourhood House will be hosting two information sessions on March 25 to walk residents through the changes.
Moreland Council has adopted similar changes to those which have caused a ratepayer backlash in other municipalities