Peel councils knock back funding to implement three-bin system for local households

Photo: City of Bunbury.
Photo: City of Bunbury.

Councils in the Peel region have rejected a financial boost to implement three-bin kerbside collections.

Earlier this month, the state government announced $20 million over six years to fund Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) bins for local households.

Under the Better Bins Plus: Go FOGO program, local governments are eligible to apply for funding of up to $25 for each household to receive a third bin for food and garden scraps.

The state government has encouraged councils to implement the FOGO system to reduce waste management, boost local jobs, increase household recycling rates and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

However, local governments including the City of Mandurah and Shires of Murray and Waroona, have knocked back the offer citing the "significant costs" that would be passed on to local ratepayers.

City of Mandurah

The City of Mandurah confirmed it was "not looking to apply" for the state government's funding to implement a third food and green waste household bin.

Councillors previously voted against the three-bin system at a meeting in 2017 due to its overwhelming cost.

Chief executive Mark Newman described putting the three-bin system into action as "impractical and costly" for local ratepayers.

"Although the state government offer to provide some funding, the City doesn't believe that the potential benefits outweigh the additional operating cost that would be worn by our ratepayers,"he said.

"The City has previously considered the three-bin waste management option and found the state government offer appealing, but impractical and costly for residents."

Mr Newman said the City was instead considering a number of alternative options to improve waste management.

"There are many aspects to consider regarding the implementation of a third food and green waste only bin including transportation, processing, process site zoning requirements," he said.

"The City remains committed to seeing the Avertas Energy waste-to-energy plant becoming operational in late 2021, which will be the first of its kind in Australia, and will be able to process 400,000 tonnes of waste a year and convert it to electrical energy."

Shire of Murray

The Shire of Murray also knocked back the offer to apply for funding, stating that any transition to the three-bin system was "not currently being considered".

Shire of Murray chief executive Dean Unsworth said the Shire would reassess the need for the service in another year.

"As a member of the Rivers Regional Council, the Shire's general waste has been committed to the Kwinana Waste to Energy Plant, expected to open in the latter half of 2021," he said.

"The need for the three-bin FOGO kerbside collection service will be reconsidered once the plant is operational."

Shire of Waroona

The Shire of Waroona declined the funding due to the anticipated cost to local ratepayers but would potentially reconsider it in five years' time.

A spokesman from the Shire of Waroona said the potential funding would help to alleviate any economic impact of implementing the FOGO system, but it wasn't enough for the Shire to justify it.

"However, in the Shire of Waroona it is inevitable that, since we are a small Shire, our ratepayers would feel the economic impact of providing this additional service more significantly than a larger local authority would," he said.

"The Shire has completed some initial costings and, even taking into account the funding available, the impact to the ratepayers for the three bin system would be substantial.

"That said, the Shire of Waroona is committed to researching alternative material recovery options.

"The Shire of Waroona is currently working on a Waste Plan... and, as part of that, the Shire has investigated various initiatives to help improve material recovery.

"One of these initiatives is an investigation into the FOGO kerbside bin system which will not only include the expected financial impact but it will also include a visual bin audit and community consultation.

"This initiative is long term and has been flagged for the 2024/25 budget."

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State government

Mandurah MP David Templeman described the announcement as "terrific" for the local community and encouraged Peel councils to reconsider their stance and apply for the funding.

"People in Mandurah are keen to play their part in looking after our environment and I think they would be eager to get on board with FOGO," he said.

"It would be great to see Mandurah go down the path of FOGO and this is a fantastic time to do so given the extra funding."

Murray-Wellington MP Robyn Clarke echoed the comments of her colleague.

"People here in Murray-Wellington are quite environmentally conscious," she said.

"I'd encourage local governments in Murray-Wellington to apply for the FOGO funding to ensure we play our part in looking after our environment and creating local employment.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said FOGO services would reduce local government waste management costs overall by reducing the amount of material sent to landfill.

"Three-bin FOGO services can also make a significant contribution to reducing waste in Western Australia," he said.

"Councils that have introduced FOGO can increase recovery rates to more than 65 per cent.

"Recycling also supports around three times more jobs compared to sending a similar amount of waste to landfill.

"I encourage local governments and their communities to get behind this program, apply for funding for FOGO services and support our move towards more consistent and better performing waste management services."

Applications for the next financial year's funding close on Friday, July 10. For more information, visit http://www.wasteauthority.wa.gov.au.