Treating them like rubbish

This is a letter published in the 17.10.20 edition of the Perth Voice

VINCENT’S recent decision to cease waste collection from local businesses has exposed the administration and council to questions about how they treat businesses, and their commitment to their stated aim of reducing waste to landfill to zero by 2028. 

The staff’s recommendation was to stop providing the service, yet still charge businesses for a service no longer provided. They would give them a rebate in the first year then pocket $8.3 million over the following nine years.

Council effectively accepted this but did include some wriggle room by requesting that the staff look at impacts and consider further ‘transitional support’ in 2022-2023.  If the council wanted to do the right, fair and reasonable thing, they would have simply instructed the staff to remove the cost of providing the service when working out the commercial rates in all future years. 

In 2018 the council committed to “zero waste to landfill by 2028”. In their recent report to council the staff have admitted, and the council has accepted, that the current commercial service does not meet this vision.  So rather than put in the effort and work out how to achieve their vision they are simply jettisoning the difficult bits.  It’s like those schools who maintain high academic results by discarding the under-performers.

They are aided by the fact that the target is eight years away and nobody will remember that the city used to collect commercial waste.  

Landfill

The landfill aspiration was for the whole community, not just residential, and by jettisoning business waste collection, the city will no longer have any way of measuring how much business waste goes to landfill.  They will be able to claim they have ‘ticked the box’ without having any real way of proving it.

Rather than step in and act on behalf of businesses, and try and develop a deal which takes advantages of economies of scale and improved bargaining power, the city is leaving it to each of the 2,111 businesses that currently use the city’s service to negotiate their own deal.

At least if there was a single deal covering all businesses there may be a way of working out what does go to landfill. Maybe that’s why they didn’t want to go down that route. 

Strangely, the council previously asked for a business case for not providing a waste service. Any private business who cared about their customers would have asked for a business case for continuing, and improving the service.

All the staff could say was that it would require more vehicles and staff – they did not identify or quantify operating costs or even provide an estimated cost.

It was a business case that would not be accepted in a real world business.

Sadly, the acceptance simply reflects the lack of commercial experience and drive in the council and administration. 

The approach is even more strange when you consider the long-overdue move to the FOGO system is going to add complexity and increase bin collections by 33 per cent, yet the council didn’t blink at that!  

So in summary: the staff have admitted that they cannot provide a competitive commercial waste collection system; they intended to pocket the savings from removing the current system; they have introduced real doubts that they will really achieve “zero waste to landfill” by 2028; and they are forcing 2,100 businesses to find a new collector rather than acting on their behalf.  

And the Council went along with all of that.

Dudley Maier
Highgate

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