Wagga residents may soon have their waste collection fees reduced by $20–$30 per year if Wagga City Council and Kurrajong enter an agreement that would allow both to claim refunds from the NSW Container Deposit Scheme.
Councillors will hold an extraordinary meeting next Monday to decide whether they should enter a 12-month refund-sharing agreement with Kurrajong in which both organisations would receive a 50-50 split of the claimable refunds from kerbside recycling.
The revenue generated for the council, projected to be about $500,000 per annum, would then be directed to reducing fees for residents.
It comes as part of the CDS, which began in December 2017, in which Kurrajong and other recycling companies claimed processing refunds from the state government directly.
However, from December this year, those companies may continue to obtain refunds via the scheme only should they enter agreements with their respective councils.
The Wagga agreement would run later this December for 12 months.
It would also include back pay for December 1, 2017–November 30, 2018.
It’s well overdue, but it’s a very positive thing.Lynne Bodell, spokesperson for Wagga Ratepayers' Association
The council’s general manager Peter Thompson said that the council was “entitled to claim a refund share on containers” because it becomes the owner once they are in yellow bins.
“The reason we’ve got an extraordinary meeting is because we want to get a resolution from council on a way forward to get the community a share of that money,” he said.
While the Office of Local Government has enforced the revenue for the council to be spent on waste management, Mr Thompson said they aimed to discuss with the state government about directing the revenue also towards other city projects.
“What we’d like to do is put that money in community projects or road repairs, but we need the state government to agree to that,” he said.
Should the partnership proceed, the council and the state government will review the implications and costs after the agreement ends in December 2019.
“Ideally in 12 months time, I’d be standing here saying ‘if you can’t be bothered to take your recyclable materials to the reverse-vending machines and you put it in the yellow bins, understand that we will deliver 100 per cent of that back to you in community programs and road funds,” Mr Thompson said.
Ratepayers’ Association welcomes news
The potential agreement has been welcomed by Lynne Bodell, spokesperson for Wagga’s Ratepayers’ Association.
“It’s well overdue, but it’s a very positive thing,” Ms Bodell said.
“If you go back to when the scheme started, we were disappointed that Kurrajong was not benefiting from the items being put into the regular recycling bins.”
“But still, I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Kurrajong looks for long-term plan
Ray Carroll, deputy chief executive officer of Kurrajong, said they had been discussing with the council for some time about an income-sharing arrangement.
“This will be just another collaboration between council and Kurrajong that flows from Kurrajong winning council’s tender for processing kerbside recyclables from the city’s households from April 2 this year,” Mr Carroll said.
“It is difficult to quantify what the revenue generated will be as a lot of the eligible CDS containers that were previously placed in kerbside recycling bins are now being directly returned by households through the reverse-vending machines located throughout Wagga.
“With more reverse-vending machines likely to be placed in Wagga, the volumes of CDS-eligible containers will likely fall further.”
Mr Carroll said it was the organisation’s intention to extend the agreement beyond December 2019 “as the CDS scheme is a ‘win-win’ for Wagga”.
The changes to how recycling companies claim processing refunds come after a state government–commissioned report found that a high portion of eligible household containers in NSW are anticipated to still be processed through kerbside recycling.
Further, it is estimated that the additional revenue stream from eligible containers through kerbside recycling could be worth around $100 million per annum for councils and recycling companies across NSW.
The costs associated with CDS were found to be less than 5 per cent of revenue from the scheme.
Extraordinary meeting of Wagga City Council: December 10, 2018
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