Going green

Green and red and yellow

The recent IPCC report is a reminder that we should all be doing what we can to minimise our environmental impact.

Rather than big picture, right now I wanted to focus on rubbish going to landfill.

I think it’s good that my local council, Glen Eira, have modified their rubbish collection. Since late July, the bin collection has been swapped around.

  • Green (food and garden waste) – now once a week
  • Yellow (most recycling) – every fortnight
  • Red (other waste) – now every fortnight

I like this arrangement, in part because it takes me many weeks to get enough “red” waste to bother putting the bin out. This was the case even before my sons moved out.

Plastic wrap recycling information

Fortnightly general waste collection might have been challenging due to the many soft plastics that can’t go in the yellow bin. Thankfully there’s an industry program called Redcycle which takes many types of soft plastics back at supermarkets. (Hey, I’m going there anyway, and whatever I take can simply go inside another plastic bag.)

To my mind, this means that most types of waste have a place to go where they can avoid landfill.

Some people don’t seem to like new arrangement. (Hobsons Bay council made similar changes a while ago, and have just rolled them back.)

Leaving aside potential issues with smell from unwrapped food waste, particularly meat (the workaround is to keep it in the fridge until bin night) people seem concerned that they need more than one red bin collection a fortnight.

In Glen Eira, big families can get extra bins.

For everyone else if you’re worried, you may want to look carefully at the latest recycling options.

If I think about my kitchen bin, the one that gets emptied out to the general waste red bin, what actually goes in it? Not much. Most household waste is either food (green) or can be recycled – and the bin collection change has encouraged me to be more careful about this.

How are the rest of you adapting?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

16 replies on “Green and red and yellow”

Moreland council are proposing the same change and locals are going bananas!!!
Like you we rarely fill our red bin so the change doesn’t impact us much at all.
Only issue could be glass bin emptied every 4 weeks could fill up depending on how many adults in the house.

Yes totally agree with you Daniel, we are in exactly the same position as you, and would be quite happy with the waste bins going to a monthly collection, or having an option for a much smaller bin such as 50 litre, with a concurrent reduction in rates. Between our compost, worm farm and chooks, plus the RedCycle and yellow bin for other recycling, there is very little that we actually put into the waste bin. In fact this has gone from a standard kitchen tidy size to a smaller bin and now to a 2 litre ice cream tub which fills about once a fortnight. We simply decant that into our brown paper bread bag and it sits in the red bin looking very lonely! If people are freaking out about this minor change to bin collections, then they are just not trying. We all need to start thinking about more than just our own convenience.

The next step could well be a 4th bin to separate glass from other recyclables. There are already trials running in Victoria, e.g. in Warrnambool, where they now have all 4 bins on a 2-weekly collection cycle.

Reason is that when glass goes into the compactors on the waste collection trucks it gets broken and then contaminates all the other co-mingled waste streams, making separation into higher-value recyclables much more difficult. The broken glass also increases the risk of injury to workers in the recycling facilities.

We’re a family of five and do not need to put our landfill bin out every week.
Our council (Whitehorse) reduced the size of all landfill bins a few years ago. There was initially angst and uproar, but most seem to have adapted.
I support any efforts which remind us of the extent of waste and the options for how we manage our waste. Perhaps councils could offer a rates discount to everyone each year the collective household waste going to landfill reduces by at least 10%.

While I’m not convinced recycling is worth doing for most materials*, particularly after China banned the import of waste, that doesn’t stop me getting annoyed at people in my apartment block dutifully wrapping their recycling in (perfectly good) Coles and Woolworths 15c reusable plastic bags each week. I even put up a home-made sign advertising Redcycle, but it hasn’t sunk in yet.


Maribyrnong council here, I’d rather general waste was collected fornightly and recyclables weekly. We always seem to have too much recycling (particularly with having more items delivered during lockdowns) and barely any rubbish.

While our building’s recycling is very good with non recyclable bins, many many mixed plastic, tin, aluminium, paper and glass bins; battery bins, flattened cardboard bins, plastic bag bins, printer cartridge bins and charity donation bins, I can’t see how a food bin would work unless there was a bin designed to not let odours escape. Most of our waste is recyclable and most of general rubbish is compostable but we can’t do that. Your new system sounds good to me. The actions, no doubt about votes by Hobsons Bay and Yarra are disappointing. Weekly recycling, weekly food waste collection, fortnightly general waste and green waste collection must be close to best, unless we follow other countries to stop co-mingling recyclables.

“Leaving aside potential issues with smell from unwrapped food waste”.
No, let’s not leave it aside! We have a small bundle of waste which we put out every week. I want the council to continue to collect this weekly.
It would be better if Council could charge by weight or volume but this wouldn’t be practical.

Charging by weight would be practical if it was part of the service contract for provision of collection services. All of the trucks can weigh each bin already. All that’s required is to add a barcode on each bin that the truck scans as it lifts it – and weight-based charging can apply to kerbside collection.
But it’s not really essential to charge by weight – this practice of altering collection frequencies and bin sizes is a pretty good proxy for charging by weight, in terms of discouraging excessive rubbish disposal.

As someone who lives in Hobsons Bay, I’ve been happy with the 4 bin system, however, now some of the councillors seems to have managed to push back to the old days of having waste bins collected on a weekly basis and green bins back to fortnightly, which is disappointing. I’m going to struggle through summer with all the clippings and gardening if we go back to fortnightly. My waste bins are barely a quarter full when it’s been pushed out for collection every two weeks.

@arfman Compost your green waste? There was no change to green waste bin size when they moved to fortnightly collection so obviously you must have had struggles under the old system too? It would probably make sense to move to a season based approach (frequent collection in spring/summer, infrequent in winter).

I lived in Hobsons Bay from 2016-2020 in Laverton, a lower socioeconomic suburb in the council. When they switched to fortnightly collection rubbish was dumped in my street and the local parks at least a couple of times a week (despite me continuously Snap Send Solving it). I don’t waste food (the only new thing accepted in green bins after the change) and personally I found my weekly green bin was used only once a month during winter.

My neighbours filled their green bins with general waste and the purple glass bin was either filled (from recent social gatherings) or totally empty (from people who don’t drink or drink cans). It was very inefficient to have it and over half my neighbours never used it. At the new unit developments there wasn’t room for all the bins they supplied and they were left out on the street for weeks at a time.

I don’t know anyone who used the food scrap caddy beyond the first fortnight. The stench from the caddy and subsequently from the bin was hideous. Even in winter it was gross, in summer it was enough to make you spew. I can’t imagine how bad it would have been to be a family with nappies in their bin for 2 weeks in January.

It’s not a coincidence that the councillors who voted to return to weekly collection are representing the poorer areas of the council while the petition to keep the fortnightly collection was circulated mostly in the affluent areas around Williamstown. The working class people in Laverton and surrounds just wanted quality services and a clean suburb not pious lecturing from the multimillionaires near the bay.

We’ve rarely filled our rubbish bin weekly (often only one bag of rubbish from inside per week) since we got food waste. I’d prefer recycling every week – even with a large one I’m usually squashing things down before the end of the fortnight. I don’t particularly want a fourth bin – narrow single-fronted block so three bins are enough. We haven’t got into the habit of recycling our soft plastics – rarely go in person to either of the duopoly and mostly order online these days.

Where does the recycling actually end up now?
Another bins issue is street space. In high density parts of Moreland where there are no nature strips, the footpaths end up strewn with manky bins, often for days, causing serious problems for people with limited mobility

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