Recycling the blame

FREMANTLE resident Gregory Payne is furious about the lack of recycling facilities at his Homeswest complex on Queen Victoria Street.

He says poor cooperation between the local council and Homeswest is resulting in piles of recyclable materials going to landfill.

Residents at the site don’t have individual recycling bins because they are “impractical” according to communities department assistant director Jackie Tang, and have to make do with skip bins for general waste.

“There are more than 100 units in the Queen Victoria Street complex in Fremantle, which would create problems if every tenant had their own rubbish and recycling bins,” Ms Tang said.

The department says it’s up to Fremantle council to provide recycling bins, but Cr Adin Lang says the city has had difficulty getting approval from the department.

Mr Payne says since moving into his Coldstores residency in 2011 he’s raised the issue multiple times with Homeswest and also the Freo council, but he’d “just get the run around”.

“I went to Homeswest and they said ‘it’s council’s issue’. I went to council and they said ‘no, it’s Homeswest’s problem’… I went to my housing examination manager and explained it to her,” he says.

In October last year, an exasperated Mr Payne approached newly-elected Cr Lang, asking for help with the recycling issue.

Shocking

Following some lobbying from Cr Lang and the council’s sustainability manager Tony Strickland, Freo launched a trial in November last year, providing five recycling skip bins in two enclosures for over 100 apartments, to be emptied each fortnight.

A Homeswest letter to residents announcing the trial came with a stern warning: “If the bins are contaminated with household rubbish or non-recyclable items they may be removed”.

Mr Payne says residents are capable of recycling.

“If they’re saying we don’t know how to recycle, well that’s not the case, because the bins are so full the lids are forced up and it’s with the correct materials.”

Mr Payne says although he’s glad to now have some recycling facilities, the five skip bins are not enough to cater for all the apartments.

Cr Lang says there isn’t enough space on site to put in more recycling bins, so it would be up to the state government to build a larger bin area.

“I thought Homeswest would be wanting to help; not putting up their hands and saying ‘it’s not our problem’,” Mr Payne says.

“The council can’t just come onto the property and say ‘we need this, we need that’. Homeswest actually pays the rates to do the job.”

Cr Lang says he has done his best to help Mr Payne and if this recycling issue is state wide, the amount of unnecessary waste produced each fortnight would be “truly shocking”.

“It raises questions about how many other complexes like this exist in WA, where there are no recycling facilities for the tenants,” he says. “I’m really hoping it’s not every Homeswest home across the state.”

Mr Payne has lived in department housing for over 12 years and says he’s never had recycling bins in that time.

A spokesperson for Homeswest said they didn’t know how many houses were without recycling.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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