The ACT Government will roll out green bins for garden waste across Canberra in coming years starting with a pilot program in Weston Creek and Kambah to be funded in the 2016/17 ACT Budget and commence first quarter of 2017.
The cost of the pilot and rollout across the two regions will be $1.715 million over two financial years.
Households will be able to opt in to the service for a one-off, cost-recovery deposit of around $50, with bins collected every fortnight. Pensioners and concession card holders will receive their bin without providing a deposit. Apartment residents and other households who do not need the service or would prefer not to participate can opt out.
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The Canberra Liberals are still formulating their policy on this issue ahead of the October ACT election, but in the run-up to the last poll, in 2012, they were committed to providing all Canberrans with free garden waste bins.
ACT Minister for Transport and Municipal Services Meegan Fitzharris, who has advocated for green bins since joining the Assembly, said the pilot would be evaluated after 12 months to test the program before the next stage of the rollout.
“Garden waste collected from the kerb will be processed at existing facilities and we will tender for this service so the pilot program in Weston Creek and Kambah can be up and running quickly in 2017,” Ms Fitzharris said.
“The mulch prepared from waste will be available through commercial providers, and the opt-in cost recovery deposit for the bin will ensure that only households who want a bin, will get one.”
Ms Fitzharris said the government chose Weston Creek and Kambah because they were mature suburbs with established gardens and were broadly representative of the housing profile of the city, and provided a good sample size of residents.
The areas both fall within the new ACT Legislative Assembly electorate of Murrumbidgee, the only electorate in which Labor has no sitting member candidates, while the Liberals have two in Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson and his colleague Giulia Jones. Former Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur is also running in Murrumbidgee.
Ms Fitzharris said a phased rollout was the best way to deliver a major new recycling project, and mirrored the process for the introduction of recycling bins to the territory in the 1990s.
The pilot would help the government determine how many waste trucks would be required for a city-wide rollout, the impact the program would have on existing waste facilities and the required regularity of pickups.
Green bins would help to divert some of the 5,000 tonnes of garden waste that is currently going to landfill each year, the Minister said.
The bins would be for garden refuse only, not household compost such as food scraps.