Garbage collection was suspended in two Victorian councils after Wheelie Waste revealed on Wednesday it would cease collection of rubbish and recycling bins from numerous areas northwest of Melbourne.
UPDATE: Services have resumed in Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Mount Alexander Shire Council following negotiations between Wheelie Waste and the two parties. Read the initial story below:
The impasse followed the recent China international waste bans, which saw a crackdown on imports of 24 different types of solid waste with contaminant levels of more than 0.5 per cent from Japan, USA, Australia and other source countries.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council comprises areas such as Kyneton, Lancefield and Gisborne, while Mount Alexander Shire Council includes Castlemaine and Maldon.
“We’ve had meetings with a number of the 22 councils that the (contractors) represent, and some have agreed to pay the difference to them this financial year and some haven’t,” Wheelie Waste spokesman David Rako told 3AW.
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“Unfortunately, the cost difference and the lost cost just can’t be borne further by some of the collection companies.”
Mount Alexander Shire Council in a statement said Wheelie Waste informed council the decision was in protest of the Victorian Government’s lack of detail regarding its rebate to address the increased cost of recycling.
Just two weeks ago, the Victorian Government a $13 million package to support the ongoing collection of household waste.
The assistance will go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy, giving them and their contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts. Council assistance will be provided until 30 June, though they will be required to meet an increase in recycling costs from 1 July.
“We are in contact with other local councils in a similar position, and will continue to work with the state government and industry to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Rebecca Stockfeld, Acting Director Sustainable Development, Mount Alexander Shire Council.
In a statement, Macedon Ranges Shire Council said:
“Macedon Ranges Shire Council has told its waste collection contractor Wheelie Waste that it has until 9am tomorrow to return to work and resume the service.
“Council was informed early on 7 March by Wheelie Waste that it had suspended its collection of waste, recycling and garden waste services for the shire.
“This action was taken without consultation with council and with no notice.”
Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s Director Assets and Operations, Dale Thornton said if services did not resume at 9am tomorrow, council would consider putting in place alternative arrangements to ensure the service continued.
“The government is aware of the issue and encourages councils and industry to resolve this immediately to restore services,” Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told Fairfax Media in a statement.