By Colin MacGillivray

AN online petition calling for Mitchell Shire Council to implement hard rubbish and green waste collection services has attracted more than 740 signatures in a week.

Kilmore resident Vijay Kumar started the petition on the website change.org urging council to collect hard rubbish twice a year and green waste fortnightly.

Currently, council offers five $35 vouchers for residents to dispose of larger household waste at resource recovery centres.

Mr Kumar said he could not believe council did not collect hard rubbish or green waste when he first moved to the area nearly a decade ago.

He said the area’s residents paid a waste disposal charge, on top of what he described as some of the highest rates in Victoria, but were not receiving value for money.

“We are paying rates higher than many other councils and when it comes to the service, it’s not there,” he said.

“I’ve lived in other areas before, and I’ve never had an issue with rubbish collection before.

“I was looking at council’s annual report, and there was an increase in the amount of money that goes towards waste collection.

“I don’t know where that money is going. We’re already paying so much in taxes and in rates, and these are basic, basic things that every household needs.”

Mr Kumar said council vouchers were useless to residents who had no means of transporting their waste.

“We don’t have a trailer to take the bins to other places like the tip,” he said.

“The council gives four or five vouchers to people and expect them to take their rubbish to the tip and throw it away, but there are people in Kilmore and the rest of Mitchell Shire who can’t drive or don’t have the means to do all the work to get waste to the tip.

“A lot of people end up throwing away their household rubbish on the side of the road or on someone else’s property and it’s not getting recycled or disposed of properly.”

A council spokesperson said Mitchell Shire’s annual waste service charge was currently $440, which was comparable to the charges of other similar-sized councils. They said the service charge was calculated to cover the cost of waste infrastructure and waste recycling services, and factored in increases in the State Government’s landfill levy fees and recycling processing charges.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Rhonda Sanderson said a feasibility study into the introduction of a hard rubbish collection service was due to be completed in 2021-22.

“Waste service costs in rural and regional councils like Mitchell Shire are generally quite different to those in metropolitan areas due to a range of factors,” she said.

“Some of these include the longer distances we have to transport waste, limited local disposal options, smaller communities and lower population densities than our city counterparts, and higher waste infrastructure costs.

“Often, councils who do not have any local drop-off facilities available, such as resource recovery centres, provide a hard waste collection service to accommodate disposal of larger items.”

Cr Sanderson said the current system of offering vouchers to ratepayers was a more cost-effective method than kerbside collection.

She said council expected to implement a green waste and glass collection service when the current kerbside collection contract expired in 2025.

“Council’s waste charges are based on cost recovery, that is, we charge what it costs to run the whole waste and recycling service,” she said.

“Any extra kerbside collection services for green waste or hard waste would have an impact on the waste service charges and on how many vouchers we can provide to our ratepayers annually.

“Council has looked at a number of options for future green waste kerbside collection and hard waste kerbside collection services in Mitchell Shire.

“In line with the Victorian Government’s kerbside transition planning framework, in August 2020, the previous Council endorsed the introduction of a food organics, garden organics (FOGO) kerbside bin.

“Staff have considered a number of options regarding service provision, delivery and costing that will allow council to bring in a FOGO service and a separate glass kerbside collection service.

“They have recommended that the most cost-effective timing for the implementation of FOGO and glass kerbside collection services would be as part of the new kerbside collection contract scheduled to commence on March 1, 2025.”

People can view Mr Kumar’s petition by visiting website bit.ly/3c7Nk77.