‘Out of touch’: Residents fume at new bin rule

Residents of an inner west Sydney suburb have raged against the local council’s decision to collect red general waste bins on a fortnightly schedule, with some households fearing this could cause a literal stink in lieu of a predicted sweltering summer.

The change coincides with the extension of the Inner West Council’s food recycling program to single-dwelling homes in which households will need to place their food waste into green food organic and garden organic (FOGO) bins, which will instead be emptied weekly.

Yellow recycling bins will still be collected on a fortnightly basis.

However, exasperated residents say they weren’t given enough forewarning of the changes.

Officially, the council issued a media release on May 22, announcing the program would begin in October; however, no date was given.

Balmain resident Dan Shaw said he was only made aware of the new schedule after an irate post in a community Facebook group sparked more than 150 comments.

“I’m annoyed at the lack of consultation and disclosure about the changes. While we need to support the environment and reduce waste, changes need to be carefully planned and implemented, Inner West Council seems to largely just make their own decisions and ignore community feedback. Not everyone even has space for (three) bins in a small and overcrowded area like Balmain.

Mr Shaw said smell was also an issue. While his household is able to keep their bins away from their home, he felt bad for his neighbours who couldn’t.

“We don’t have babies so no nappies in our bins, but there are plenty of young families around and I feel sorry for them,” he said.

“With a very hot summer predicted you’d think winter would be a more suitable time to trial this.”

In the same Facebook thread, residents lashed the decision as being “out of touch” with citizens.

“My red bin is full of nappies and cat litter every week. Inner city living means that our homes and blocks are small, so there’s no space to store larger bins or new bins being rolled out. What do you propose we do?” wrote one woman.

Another resident believed the program would fail.

“My only spot that my bins fit is next to my kitchen. I eat a lot of seafood and have cat litter. My bins smell after a few days. I simply can’t imagine what they would smell like after a week without collecting!!” she wrote.

An Inner West Council spokesman said while food recycling may be “challenging at first”, the environmental impact will be “significant”. The program is currently available to people living in apartments.

“Diverting food and garden waste from landfill is the single biggest thing we can do as a community to help combat climate change,” he said.

“After the initial rollout in October, we will review the data and we have the resources to make modifications and changes if necessary.”

The spokesman said the food recycling program was expected to save ratepayers more than $370,000 per year in landfill feeds.

The average household can also offset the equivalent of one month of their annual electricity emissions just by complying with the program.

He added that the council would also have a dedicated team to help residents struggling to transition to the new schedule.

“Based on the experience of other councils who have implemented food recycling and fortnightly red bin collections, they have found that securely wrapping nappies, incontinence pads, period products, pet litter and pet waste before disposal in the red bin limits odour and that there is no increase in odour from one week to two weeks,” he said.

“Residents will also be able to book an extra red bin collection while they get used to fortnightly collection.”

Originally published as Residents arc up at Sydney’s Inner West Council’s new rules for red bins

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