Noel Towell June 15, 2012
The debate over green rubbish bins for Canberra households was set to ignite again today with the ACT government saying the system would be wasteful and expensive for the city's apartment dwellers.
Environment Minister Simon Corbell went public this morning with research by a private consultant that shows a third bin would not work for the growing numbers of Canberrans choosing to live in multi-unit developments.
Consultant Hyder was hired to look at waste disposal and recycling efforts in multi-unit developments in Canberra, across Australia and internationally and advise on the best way to boost recovery of discarded material from the city's apartments and units.
The ACT government wants to build an $8 million materials recycling facility (MRF) to sort organic material from rubbish while retaining the current two-bin system, arguing that the third bin option would cost $20 million and recover less waste than the MRF.
But the ACT Greens are opposed to the plan, with the crossbenchers committed to a third bin for organic waste - the ''source-separated'' option - and have dubbed the government's plan a ''dirty MiRF.''
But the consultants, who have already backed the MRF plan in a separate report, rejected a ''one-size fits all'' approach to recycling in Canberra' apartments and units because of the the diversity of building types. Instead Hyder has backed options such as communal systems in which recycling would be collected building-by-building or floor-by floor. The consultants have also suggested that chutes be installed in new apartments where residents would simply tip their discarded material into the chute and it would be picked up from a central collection point.
Mr Corbell said yesterday that the report backed his plan to build the MRF, which the government says could be operational within five years. ''This report clearly shows that a third bin as proposed by the ACT Greens is not the most economically or environmentally responsible decision to recover organic wastes from multi-unit developments, and the government's proposed option of a residual MRF would achieve strong results at the best cost to the taxpayer,'' Mr Corbell said.
''Increasingly, Canberrans are choosing to live in multi-unit developments to achieve better access to work and public transport, the ACT government has been looking at different ways to recover the waste from these units.''
Meanwhile the Greens are threatening to force the government's hand on regulations for energy-efficient water heaters in established houses, alleging a broken promise by Labor on the issue.
Greens planning spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur said the government had failed to act on a pledge made in 2009 that it would regulate that all new water heaters must be solar, heat pump or five-star gas systems. Ms Le Couteur has introduced legislation that would ban the installation of any more traditional storage hot-water systems and is hoping to have the laws passed with the support of the opposition. ''What this legislation would do is have the same rules for all new hot-water systems, whether they are in new or existing houses,'' Ms Le Couteur said.