FOGO no go

The big bin doesn’t fit at Michael Brazier’s Highgate townhouse, and his attempt to solve the issue’s been deemed “noncompliant”. Photo by David Bell.

Picky garbos won’t take Michael’s bins

STRICT rules around FOGO bins are turning some residents against the system after being punished for other people tossing the wrong rubbish in their bins.

Across Bayswater and Vincent we’ve heard of rubbish going uncollected because a recycling bin has a pizza box in it that’s deemed too oily, or because a passer by tossed an empty bottle in the new “Food Organics/Garden Organics” bin.

Vincent’s at the tail end of a seven-week WA Waste Authority-funded bin monitoring program checking the bins of 2000 households. Those with the wrong stuff are tagged with an unhappy face and a list of sins, and in many cases the noncompliant bins are not emptied. 

Highgate resident Michael Brazier says when the new system rolled out he was keen to be a good citizen and sort everything into the right bins. 

Strata problems

But he’s fed up with what he calls “bureaucracy gone mental”, with mounting instances of his bins going uncollected after the bin-monitors find something amiss. 

Mr Brazier says he’s been scrupulous but he can’t stop others from using his bins improperly when they’re out on the verge awaiting collection. There’s a cafe across the road from his verge and recently his recycling bin wasn’t emptied because customers had tossed some empty coffee cups in there. 

Mr Brazier says it’s also tricky at stratas which share common bin space, like at another property he has where there’s seven units on a block in North Perth. 

“We’ve had issues there with FOGO. Some of the residents – I don’t know who – haven’t been putting the correct stuff in the correct bins, so [collectors] refuse to empty them.”

He called Vincent council’s waste team but they were firm: “They said unless the correct stuff’s in the bin, then we won’t empty the bin.

“So I said, ‘am I supposed to be the bin police?’ There’s seven residences there.”

Mr Brazier said the system’s ill-suited to many of Vincent’s inner-city houses. He has no space for three bins, and says like many other urban properties he has no need for a big 240L FOGO bin.

“The demographics of Vincent is 2.2 people per living space, and I don’t have a garden so I have no green space,” so no branches, leaves, or grass clipping’s that’d otherwise fill a FOGO.

His attempt to find a solution to a lack of bin storage space worked fine for a few months: He got a spare smaller 140L bin he had, gave it a green lid and marked it ‘FOGO’.

The trucks happily picked it up for several months until the recent bin-tagging trial, when inspectors sealed his bin with pink tape and it wasn’t collected. By the time the next collection date rolled around, maggots had already started climbing out of the bin.

Another round on the phone with the Vincent waste team followed: “They said we won’t empty it because it’s not the regulation bin,” Mr Brazier says.

With so many inner city properties having only a tiny space for bins, enough people had sought a smaller bin that it was included in Vincent’s FOGO FAQ. 

Ingenuity

We put some questions to Vincent council and mayor Emma Cole told us via email: 

“We appreciate the ingenuity of the Highgate resident, but we are required to use the bins as provided per the Waste Authority’s Better Practice FOGO Kerbside Collection Guidelines.”

That locks them into 140L for general waste, 240L for recycling and 240L for FOGO.

“The collection volume for each service is important to maximise recovery and minimise general waste,” Ms Cole says. “We have a funding agreement with the State Government‚Äôs Better Bins Plus system so we are obligated and required to use the bins provided and consistent with guidelines.”

Asked what people could do about others using their bins, Ms Cole says: “In regards to shared bins in apartment complexes, we suggest residents to contact their strata/property management if this is an ongoing issue as the City of Vincent does offer large signage for bin stores as well as waste sorting material in 12 different languages.”

Good sentiment

Ms Cole says the situation has been improving: “Our Community Waste Educators have had some quality conversations with residents, answering questions about their tricky waste items and other waste and recycling related queries. 

“There is good sentiment around our new three-bin FOGO system.

“We have had feedback from our FOGO processor advising that our contamination rate has now dropped below our pre-bin tagging rate of 3 per cent, with them confirming that they attribute this to the bin tagging program.”

By DAVID BELL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s