Canterbury-Bankstown Council’s trucks have mixed recycling with rubbish for ‘more than a decade’

The post prompted many responses from residents who said the same thing had happened to them. “This morning I watched them empty the garbage bin by hand and drop the rubbish into the recycle bin, and then manually lift the recycle bin and load the contents into the truck,” said one.

Another said it had been “happening for ages” and posted a photo, while another said the contents of his green organics bin went into general waste, too. Several said they were particularly angry given that they had been threatened with a fine for having bubble wrap – which had been dumped by strangers – in their recycling bins.

The contents of red and yellow bins go into the same truck in Earlwood.

The contents of red and yellow bins go into the same truck in Earlwood.

Mayor Khal Asfour said it happened only in homes on narrow streets with “hard to reach” homes and had been the practice for more than a decade.

“The simple facts of the matter are the streets are too narrow for our regular side-loader garbage trucks to operate,” he said in a statement to the Herald. “There is no room for them to turn around and we are forced to send in rear-loading trucks manned by two employees.”

Canterbury-Bankstown runs its own waste service, having brought it in-house about 18 months ago. He said the former Canterbury council ran a similar service but residents did not notice because they were asleep when the trucks came.

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However, other councils that deal with narrow streets said they did not have the same problem with truck size. “Our streets can fit our trucks including our recycling trucks,” said a spokeswoman for Waverley Council.

A spokeswoman for Inner West Council said it had “a range of fleet for garbage and recycling collection suited to the location being serviced. Council does not mix garbage and recycling in the same truck.”

Toumbourou said mixing garbage with recycling sent mixed messages to people who took the time to sort their materials before they put them in the bin.

“What we really want is for people to have confidence that the effort they make to sort their rubbish is going to be rewarded by delivering strong recycling outcomes.

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“This runs absolutely counter to the effort we’re trying to make across the country in creating those systems in running kerbside recycling.”

She said there was technology that could sort refuse at the waste facility but its use would be transparently communicated and it was never the preferred approach.

Meanwhile, concerned about the higher-than average rate of “contamination” or putting the wrong rubbish in the wrong bin, Canterbury-Bankstown is introducing camera technology to check the contents of residents’ bins to educate them about what to do with waste.

“As a council, we want to proactively incorporate smart thinking into the daily lives of our residents,” the website said.

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