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Mitchell Shire Council spends $1.4 million on illegal dumping

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Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic is a senior journalist for the North Central Review primarily covering politics at all levels and sport with a particular interest in basketball. Since 2019 she has worked for several publications across Victoria including most recently at the Alexandra Standard and Yea Chronicle. She is always keen to hear from local community members about issues they face and has an interest in crime and court reporting.

Illegal rubbish dumping is costing Mitchell Shire Council between $200,000 to $300,000 annually, with the total bill $1.4 million across the past five years.

Council officers presented reports detailing associated costs for ongoing collection of and investigating illegally dumped rubbish at the June 26 council meeting.

For the 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years, $140,000 was spent for the collection and disposal of illegally dumped rubbish.

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Council has allocated about $155,000 in the 2023-24 budget to deal with illegal rubbish dumping.

There were 415 incidents of illegally dumped rubbish investigated and cleaned up in the 2021-22 financial year, costing council over $164,000.

Costs for officer investigation time and prosecution associated with illegal dumping is estimated between $50,000 and $100,000 each year.

A trial surveillance camera project has been implemented in illegal dumping hot spot locations along Old Sydney Road and in Granite Park, Seymour costing about $20,000.

During the 2022-23 financial year, council issued 16 infringement notices for littering and illegal dumping related matters equating to just under $40,000 in fines.

Cr Louise Bannister said council needed community collaboration to combat illegal dumping.

“Council is doing a number of actions and we’re working towards mitigating this as much as possible but it’s a community cultural thing as well,” she said.

“We all need to make sure we’re looking after the environment. If you see someone dumping rubbish, call the rubbish dumping hotline.

“The community need to support each other in this to ensure Mitchell Shire stays as beautiful as it is.

“It’s a pretty staggering figure. When you think it’s costing council $1.4 million now, imagine if we worked together to stop that ourselves where the money could go within council.”

Council reports found responses to illegal dumping by councils across Victoria included investigations and prosecution, use of surveillance cameras and use of rapid clean-up crews.

They found councils use various service models for residents to lawfully dispose of hard waste including drop off at a resource recovery centre, booked collection services, scheduled collection services and complimentary vouchers for waste disposal.

Council reported there was no evidence to verify that providing a hard waste collection service reduced illegal dumping and it is estimated to cost $2-$2.5 million per annum to deliver this service.

Currently contractors are engaged through Mitchell Shire Council to collect illegally dumped rubbish across the shire fortnightly but sometimes it takes up to four weeks for collection of the waste that is hazardous or contaminated.

Council is assessing whether fortnightly collection is adequate to address illegal dumping. A more frequent collection will require additional budget allocation.

Council provides $200 waste disposal vouchers annually to all ratepayers with a $1 million in value of vouchers redeemed per annum.

Vouchers can be redeemed at any of council’s resource recovery centres.

Mitchell Shire Council, the City of Whittlesea and Hume City Council will establish a working group to address illegal dumping across the northern growth corridor.

Cr Bill Chisholm said it was a ‘really critical’ report.

“It’s really a major issue the dumping of rubbish for Mitchell Shire,” he said.

“It’s really a critical component of councils work to collect rubbish.”

Mitchell Shire Council partnered with Murrindindi Shire Council to commission SALT consulting to complete a report.

SALT recommended council continue to provide resource recovery centre access for all residents, explore opportunities to provide greater service equity for discounted hard waste collections for elderly and disabled people through private contractors and service providers, and council may choose to promote local businesses or contractors providing hard waste services.

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