The Canberra Liberals say it’s time to return to a weekly general waste collection for the 5000 or so households currently trialling the government’s new Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) scheme.
Opposition spokesperson for city services Nicole Lawder will move a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly today (5 April) calling on the ACT Government to reverse the fortnightly garbage collection – which began when the pilot program commenced in Belconnen – and revert to weekly pick-ups.
Ms Lawder said that while she supports recycling initiatives, she’s heard from Canberrans who are frustrated that essential services like weekly rubbish collections are being scrapped.
Several residents participating in the trial, especially those with larger households, small children, or family members with medical needs or disabilities, have complained about issues arriving from the fortnightly rubbish collection.
One resident told Region Media earlier this year they were embarrassed to keep extra rubbish in their home.
Sally (last name withheld) said her family is “swimming in trash each week”, and she was concerned about “birds and other animals getting into the bags and making a mess.”
Another resident said they were unable to produce enough FOGO waste to compensate for moving to fortnightly bin collection, particularly as their household already composted anyway.
Ms Lawder said it wasn’t safe for residents to be stockpiling medical waste, and she didn’t believe the government should be putting the onus on Canberrans to sort the issue themselves by having to pay for a bigger or additional bin.
And residents have agreed that’s not a fair solution.
“It’s unclear to me why the burden always has to fall on the household,” one said.
The FOGO trial, which is currently underway across 5000 households in Belconnen, Bruce, Macquarie and Cook, has been welcomed by environmental groups as it keeps food scraps out of landfill and instead turns them into a useful finished product.
Participating households have their green bins and their FOGO waste collected weekly.
Last month, as Mr Steel announced the construction of a new large-scale composting facility to process FOGO waste, he said the pilot had so far been very successful.
He noted that the government would continue to survey participants in the current FOGO trial in Belconnen – via letterbox drop and email – to understand their experiences and views. This would be taken into consideration before the scheme is further expanded.
But he could not say whether the government would move to increase the frequency of general rubbish collection in response to resident feedback.
Instead, he reiterated comments about the scheme being intended to reduce the amount of waste going into the rubbish bin, thereby reducing the frequency at which it needed to be collected.
But Ms Lawder said if the government is genuinely interested in improving the FOGO scheme, it should be open to making necessary changes.
She’s also calling on the government to implement an opt-out arrangement so residents can keep their weekly rubbish collection unless they specifically ask not to.
Ms Lawder’s motion has also called for the government to create an online option for residents to provide feedback on the trial to, and for the feedback and results of the trial to be publicly released.