Essential waste services during pandemic – East Gippsland

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East Gippsland Shire Council is fully complying with Victorian Government COVID-19 directions and their implications on waste services.

Chief Executive Officer Anthony Basford said like most businesses and aspects of everyday life, the pandemic was also challenging the waste system.

“To ensure our waste facilities continue to operate in a safe manner we have implemented some changes. We appreciate these changes are not ideal, but community health and our capacity provide essential household waste services throughout the pandemic is most important to us,” Mr Basford said.

“The message from the Government has been clear: there are only four essential reasons to leave home and taking green waste to the waste facilities is not one of these four reasons.”

Councils across Victoria, including East Gippsland, have residents who are self-isolating at home and using this time as an opportunity to clean up their homes, gardens and sheds and therefore seeking to dispose of additional waste.

“Our waste sites have experienced an increase in the number of residents wanting to dispose of hard and green waste. Kerbside collection volume has also increased,” Mr Basford said.

“This influx has meant social distancing was not being followed and Council’s waste staff were being put at risk. For the safety of the public and their staff, Council stopped receiving green waste until the current stage three restrictions are lifted,” Mr Basford said.

This complies fully with the Victorian Government COVID-19 directions and their implications for waste services outlined last week, and ongoing EPA guidelines and requirements, including management of stockpiles.

Mr Basford urged residents to think about why they should leave their houses, the safety of essential workers and the overall health of the community.

“Our waste staff are essential service workers and our waste facilities are also essential. These measures are for the protection of our staff and services. If our waste staff were to become sick and we had to close our waste facilities completely, this would be catastrophic for the East Gippsland community,” he said.

“We are ensuring that we can continue to safely operate our landfills and transfer stations so that residents who do not have kerbside collections are able to continue to dispose of their household waste. We are continuing to support our local businesses by allowing contractors to dispose of waste if this is needed for their business operations. We have also maintained the green waste service for bushfire affected people.

“Please continue to observe the rules so we can ensure that our essential household waste services are not disrupted during the pandemic.”

What’s in place:

  • Additional measures to support social distancing at waste sites including only accepting EFTPOS transactions and having those delivering waste remain in their vehicles.
  • All Council’s waste facilities remain open to receive household waste- whether delivered by contractor or by residents without a kerbside collection service.
  • Green waste disposal continues for bushfire-affected residents. Please call ahead.

    Fire prevention clean-up:

  • Council understands that residents need to clean up properties for fire prevention works and dispose of these materials in the correct manner and is working on a long-term approach to ensure this can take place.
  • Residents on larger blocks outside residential areas can burn off organic material subject to CFA guidelines and notifications.

Mr Basford said if stage three restrictions extend beyond May 11, Council will review the approach.

“People within residential areas are encouraged to continue to use their green waste bins, stockpile larger materials or consider using contractors to mulch or remove the green waste,” he said.

“It’s also timely to remind everyone to use their general, recycling and green waste bins correctly. Over the last few weeks about 30 per cent of recycling that has been collected from kerbside collections has been contaminated with general household waste.

“This means that disappointingly everything in the bin goes into landfill.

“We will be distributing flyers to households next week on what waste is acceptable in what bin. We will also commence bin audits and those found contaminated will have a sticker placed on them to advise that the bin will need to be re-sorted by the owner before it will be collected.”

Residents that live in a large household (five or more permanent residents), have medical waste or young children in nappies can apply for an additional/larger general waste bin. Residents in townships without a green waste bin can apply to have one included in their service if they fall into a green waste zone.

Please consider and practice limiting your waste, by reducing packaging, home composting and worm farming.

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