Green waste recycling strangeness

I do some volunteer work in a local nature reserve – rubbish collection, fence monitoring and temporary repairs etc. An increasing trend I’ve noticed while doing my daily rounds is people dumping green waste on the roadsides in the area or just over the fence into the reserve. This seems to happen several times a week.

The behavior really puzzled me – why not take it to the local council-run recycling center? It’s very close by.

Aside from the dumping being totally ignorant and inconsiderate, why would these people risk a fine of hundreds of dollars if caught?

While green waste isn’t as obnoxious as plastics, car parts and other stuff I clean up; most of the cuttings etc. are from non-native species and the park area has quite enough of these invading already.

We mulch what we can at home, have a worm farm and also a green waste bin that the council collects to convert into mulch; but there’s times when that’s not enough. The council also offers what we call “hard rubbish” pickups twice a year; but the guidelines are pretty stringent – all the green waste needs to be bundled up – be a certain length and certain width. In some situations this makes preparing green waste quite labor intensive.

I have a couple of dead trees in the yard that I wanted to get rid of, so I gave the council-run recycling center a call to see what the deal was about dropping it off there myself.

I was flabbergasted – it was going to cost me exactly the same amount to drop off my green waste as it would for me to dump the equivalent amount of non-biodgredable, non-recyclable plastics or other household refuse in their landfill! The cost was $AU 30 for volume equivalent to the back of a minivan with the seats folded flat. I did expect to pay a small fee, but certainly not that high. As mentioned, unlike the non-biodegradable waste, the council makes money from green waste by converting it to mulch.

This really doesn’t make sense and certainly explains the increased dumping of green waste on roadsides – which the council then needs to send out special crews to go and pick up. While our council is quite eco-savvy and environmentally conscious, this appears to be a major hole in their recycling approach that is counter-productive.

As an Australian, I pay a stack of tax – and then council rates on top of that. I really feel that taking the time and effort to deliver green waste directly to government-run recycling depots shouldn’t incur a fee – it’s penalizing for recycling … or perhaps I’m expecting too much?