Council’s waste collection service can provide kerbside recycling collections at an extra cost … the only question is do residents want to pay for it? (Photo: JJ’s Waste And Recycling)

July 14, 2021

South Burnett Regional Council is revisiting the idea of introducing kerbside recycling almost eight years after tossing the concept overboard.

In February 2013, former Mayor Wayne Kratzmann asked residents to give their views about Council introducing a two-bin kerbside recycling service which would collect recyclable materials and green waste.

At the time, Mayor Kratzmann said he was prompted to pursue the idea because many other Councils offered similar services.

In addition to being kinder to the planet, preventing recyclable materials being dumped could significantly extend the working lives of the region’s landfills.

However, by December 2013 Mayor Kratzmann was forced to shelve the idea after a survey disclosed that while 31 per cent of respondents wanted such a service and were prepared to pay for it, 61 per cent did not.

At Wednesday’s Community standing committee meeting, officers reported Council’s current contract with JJ’s Waste And Recycling was due for renewal within the next year.

They noted that several Councillors had asked about introducing kerbside recycling, and thought it might be time to send out another survey to test if the community’s mood had changed.

However, a suggestion that a survey form be included with Council’s August rates notices provoked heated discussion.

Cr Kathy Duff said she thought a survey was a good idea.

Cr Duff said she thought it was very important to consult the community about all decisions that might affect them.

She thought it would “be rude” to bring in a new service residents would have to pay for without consulting them beforehand.

However, Cr Kirstie Schumacher said she was opposed to this and Council should introduce the service without surveying the community beforehand.

She said Councillors had been elected to take decisions that benefitted the community, and should do so.

She was certain introducing kerbside recycling was something most people wanted – certainly, the majority of people in her own Division.

Mayor Brett Otto said he had been initially been inclined to Cr Duff’s view but now had doubts.

The 2013 survey had been sent to 13,486 households and attracted 5395 responses, with 1672 in favour and 3723 opposed.

It was only natural that residents opposed to paying extra for their waste collection service would be more highly motivated to respond than those in favour, Mayor Otto said.

And it was hard to ignore the total number of responses – negative and positive – still only represented about one-sixth of the South Burnett’s population.

Mayor Otto said he also believed attitudes towards recycling and the environment had changed significantly during the past eight years.

“It’s now hard to find a Council that doesn’t have some form of kerbside recycling,” he said.

“In fact, one of my election promises was to introduce kerbside recycling to the South Burnett if I was elected.”

In the end, Councillors voted to lay the report on the table until the August meeting so they can assess community sentiment themselves.

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