A video showing municipal workers in southwest Sydney mixing recycling and general rubbish in the same garbage truck has sparked outrage from residents.
But the waste industry says it’s happening for a simple reason and with a simple solution – and that residents are partly to blame.
“The problem was caused by local authorities setting unsafe working hours,” Tony Khoury, executive director of the New South Wales Contractors and Waste Recyclers Association, told news.com.au.
“And the reason they are demanding unsafe working hours is because they are getting trivial noise complaints from residents who don’t want the pick up to be at the safest time – i.e. 2am, 3am, 4 midnight, this is the safest time for garbage collection and recycling. from those streets.
He said in many places that “we are not allowed to start before 7 am”.
“It’s just ridiculous,” he said. “Children go to school, people go to meetings. This is becoming a real safety issue for the driver, the truck runner, members of the public.”
Earlwood’s mother Pia Coyle observed Canterbury and Bankstown Council scavengers dumping the contents of street yellow and red trash cans into the trash cans. the same truck and made a video that he posted Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.
Ms Coyle told the newspaper that the council should have informed residents if it could not empty the red and yellow trash cans separately, and that most people would be willing to walk their trash cans a short distance from the main road if they could be collected in larger containers. truck.
“Recycling is very important to me and I want my kids to learn how to do the right thing,” she said.
Other residents also said they witnessed the same.
“Why do I separate my recycling from ordinary waste when [the collectors] come and mix everything again? One of the residents posted on social media along with a photo of the same truck, the paper said.
Another added that it “has been going on for ages.”
Mr Khoury told news.com.au the problem is that many areas of the city with narrow lanes and roads can only be accessed with a rear loader truck that picks up only one type of trash, as opposed to a sideloader truck. loader.
“Instead of sending two trucks and doubling the risk to the safety of workers and the public, the job is being done by one truck,” he said.
“It’s not news, it’s ongoing [in some councils]”.
Mr Khoury, whose members own 95 percent of the equipment used in NSW’s waste industry, said if the councils “allow maximum safe time, one truck for waste and one for recycling could be considered.”
“But then the council should consider noise complaints,” he said.
“I’m a little confused – our industry does not create garbage. We are here to collect and transport it, but we must do it in the safest possible way. You were asked to do a job, but then one hand was tied behind your back.”
Ideally, he said, all waste collection and recycling “should be allowed at the safest possible time,” determined on the basis of a risk assessment, rather than arbitrary times set by the council based on noise complaints.
He noted that in 2018 grandmother died after being hit by a garbage truck on Sydney’s northern beaches.
“We are talking about real, serious, fatal consequences if we get it wrong,” he said.
The New South Wales waste industry employs approximately 18,000 full-time, part-time and temporary workers.
Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour said in a statement to news.com.au that he shared the frustration of some residents and called for a full review of the waste management board.
“Of course, I take this issue very seriously,” he said.
“That is why I called on the council staff to conduct a full review of our waste management activities. But I want to emphasize that this is not happening throughout the city, but on several hard-to-reach streets. It’s about public safety and our big trucks going into narrow streets with cars parked on both sides.”
Mayor Asfour added that when the council became aware of the problems, staff began working with the community to resolve them.
“In some cases, residents have asked the council not to put up parking signs so trucks can have proper access, and in other cases, residents have dumped trash cans at the end of their street,” he said.
“Obviously there are still some problem areas, and if the review means changes need to be made, I’ll do my best to sort it out.”
However, other narrow street councils, including the Inner West Council and Waverley Council, reported Sydney Morning Herald they didn’t have the same truck size problem and didn’t mix trash with recycling.
Suzanne Tumburu, chief executive of the Australian Recycling Council, said she would describe the video as “unusual behavior” and that “I suppose knowing the councils I interact with, they would be horrified by this approach.”
“They would also probably be horrified at what this could mean in terms of how confident households are in dealing with their processing systems,” she said.
“I certainly hope that this does not affect the expectations of the community. In terms of recycling, that’s the last thing the industry wants to see.”
In 2017, China introduced a major ban on imported waste from other countries – ostensibly for “recycling” – caused a crisis in the local industry, as almost half of Australia’s metal, plastic, paper and cardboard was sent there.
Ms Tumburu said that Australian recycling technologies “have come a long way, especially in the last few years – we have become strong processors.”
“We need to maintain community confidence in the results of recycling,” she said.
Originally published as Shock reaction when municipal workers mix recycling and trash in one truck