Waste disposal offer withdrawn

Sarah StegerAugusta Margaret River Times

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River wound back its offer of free waste disposal at last week’s televised council meeting after the amount of waste going to landfill almost tripled.

Councillors voted unanimously last Wednesday to reverse the call to provide free general waste disposal until June 30 — a measure that was originally aimed at helping residents during the coronavirus pandemic — saying the Shire needed to ensure environmental and financial sustainability.

It comes after the amount of rubbish at the Shire-run facilities almost tripled between March 27-29 (the weekend after the fee-free measure was introduced), compared to the average amount of waste typically recorded at the various tips.

According to the council report, 179 more car loads of rubbish and eight times more mattresses were dumped during the three-day period in March compared to the three consecutive Fridays before the fee relief was introduced. Fifteen more tyres were dropped off than the average, as well as one more fridge than normal and two extra asbestos-contaminated items.

The Shire also said the Davis Road landfill site was at risk of reaching capacity much sooner than projected because of the influx of rubbish — an additional waste management cost that would have had to be passed on to all ratepayers.

Acting sustainable development and infrastructure services director Nick Logan said the immediate re-introduction of the user-pay waste system would be ultimately fairer and more equitable for the broader community.

“The waiving of non-regulatory wastes fees and charges was in recognition of the financial hardship being experienced by community members whose incomes were impacted by the current health pandemic,” he said.

“In most instances this is working well and it hasn’t resulted in a great deal of the user variance, but in terms of waste service, the usage rates grew rapidly and was clearly going to cause too many negative impacts for the wider community.

“Waste is an essential service and it is imperative this facility remains available for residents in our community.”

Shire residents in possession of a valid concession card will still be able to dispose of up to one cubic metre of residential waste a day free.

Residents can contact the Shire’s Waste Services team to seek clarification to the changes or discuss individual waste service requirements.

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