Cutting waste

As Alexandrina Council ratepayers adjust to their new fortnightly bin collection, the change is heralding a shift that other homeowners across SA are likely to face in the future.
That council’s decision to adopt the new system, which cuts weekly general waste collection to once every two weeks, is reportedly working well so far.
Its Mayor, Keith Parkes, believes the change will help the region weather the escalating cost of the State Government’s Solid Waste Levy.
That levy now looms large as a significant financial burden for councils all over SA.
For example, the levy hike will cost Adelaide Hills Council ratepayers an extra $100,000 this financial year alone.
By 2019/20 that council faces a waste levy bill of $904,000 a year – an exorbitant amount of money for a local government body to find.
If ratepayers do not want to be left footing a bill that large to dump their rubbish, there must be changes both to how waste is collected and how much refuse is produced.
While it may be a nuisance for some in the Alexandrina district and a headache during the initial adjustment period, the fortnightly service will result in better environmental outcomes for the region as more waste is diverted into recycling or reused around the home and garden.
Already locals are increasingly turning to compost bins, worm farms and kitchen caddies to remove waste from their general rubbish bin.
Other strategies such as minimising the purchase of over-packaged goods may also help cut waste volumes.
But frustratingly for local councils, some incentives to reduce landfill are being hampered because the State Government refuses to release almost $86m of the levy funds it has already collected.
Instead, that money sits idle in State Treasury, propping up the Government’s precious budget surplus.
It means money is unavailable for organisations such as disability employment service Finding Workable Solutions, which wants about $22m to establish five new Salvage and Save depots around the State – a move that would substantially help communities divert waste from landfill.