Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A - Z of Australia - R is for Rubbish Removal

In some of the countries I have lived in, rubbish collection was done either weekly (in Braunschweig, Germany) or daily (in Johannesburg, South Africa), the latter involving a lot of council workers picking up bags from the pavement and throwing them into a truck driving ahead of them.

In Australia rubbish collection is a one-man show! Or one man and his truck, more precisely.

Every suburb has a designated collection day, but in my suburb, I put out my bin on the verge on Monday, and early Tuesday morning the truck comes, stops next to the bin, grabs it with some "claws" and drops the rubbish into the container, then puts the bin back on the verge. After collection you just bring the bins into your property.

In our council and in most of the cities I know, there are two bins -in Perth, one is a bin with a green lid for normal household rubbish, lawn clippings and small prunings and a yellow lidded bin for stuff that is recyclable - paper, glass, tins and cans, plastic (even plastic bags), although these recyclables should not be put in plastic bags. 
The yellow and green lidded bins awaiting collection

The truck picking up the bins

The green bin (normal rubbish) is collected once a week and the yellow bin (recycle) is collected fortnightly, on the same day as the green bin, with two different trucks doing the job.

Construction or building materials, soil or hazardous materials are not allowed in the bins and must be discarded at the  local Recycling facility (information about their location available from your Council or their website).

The council has a list of items that can be recycled and how to dispose of items that they do not collect, like construction material, etc.

Picking a recycling bin with the "claws"

Twice a year (in my council), we have a Green verge collection and a Hard Waste verge collection.
I find this service, which is of course provided through the property rates you pay your council, is to me one of the best services the council provides.

The hard waste comprises old furniture, white goods, televisions (these were out en masse lately due to a change from analogue to digital tv in recent months), general household junk.
Again, no construction material, motor vehicle parts or flammable liquids are allowed.

The council provides a map, (online as well) with zone maps and date schedule for each suburb within the council. You are allowed to put out the waste two weeks before collection begins.

They claim to remove up to 1 standard trailer load of hard waste from each property, but I have seen some houses with so much rubbish, they must have certainly thrown out the whole house!!

* When people start putting their stuff out on the verge, you can see a few people driving by with their small trucks, and they stop to examine the piles of stuff and sometimes pick a few things to take with them. I once saw an orange lounge suite being taken away, and then a couple of days later I went to the "flea market" and there it was for sale. "Money for nothing"!
Some things are actually quite good, and can just be renovated with a lick of paint or varnish.
A few years ago I saw 2 pretty round cane chairs a couple of houses from mine. They had nothing wrong with them apart from lack of varnish. So at night I went to get them, one by one, and after sanding and varnishing them, bought foam to make the pillows and they are still in use in my backyard!

Household rubbish, furniture awaiting collection
With the Green Waste verge collection, only tree prunings no longer than 1.5 metres, leaves, etc, but nothing inside bags. In this instance, two trailer loads will be removed from each property. 
These prunings are used to make mulch, which the council then sells back to us to put on our gardens in summer.
Green verge collection - a tractor picks tree trunks to put into the rubbish truck

Of course the cost of these services are built in the house and land taxes you pay your local Council, but I think we are being provided a very good and efficient service, and the cities are left clean and tidy.
How is the Rubbish collection done in your country?


  1. How funny--I remember a gal from overseas complaining about our early morning trash pickup here in the States; she said it woke her children up every week and was quite cranky about it, which I didn't understand at all. It's a noise you just grow accustomed to, right? When you have your big pickup of household items, do people go around the night before/early in the morning to get free stuff that people are throwing out? They do that here. I never have, but some people really look forward to that day!

  2. Hi Laurie. In my street the truck comes at around 6,30am. Not too bad...Yes I forgot to write about that, people drive around picking up good stuff.

  3. I didn't realise what a great rubbish system it is until we lived in Spain. The rubbish was collected late at night every night there but you had to carry your rubbish down in the lift, passed the shops and across the road to the communal rubbish bin!

  4. I used to live in Perth and now live in Adelaide, I thought the council hard rubbish made the streets look untidy in some suburbs, here in Adelaide you book online for when you want the hard rubbish collected they have the dates for the whole year and you simply book the date that suits you but you can only put the rubbish out the night before. Adelaide at least in my council area we have three bins blue for household rubbish yellow for recycle and green for garden cuttings etc, we also have a bio basket for kitchen food scraps (paper towels tea bags the motto is If it didnt grow it doesnt go, this is placed in the green bin and put out on the opposing fortnight to the yellow bin. here in Adelaide with the bottles and cans you can get 10c back i collect them all in a bag crush them down lid off and leave them out on the recycle night, someone always collect it, I feel it helps somebody that needs the money more than me. overall I think the Adelaide system works very well. We all need to take responsibility for our rubbish.

    ailsa rodrigues

  5. Yes, Sharon, I do think Australia's rubbish collection is more streamlined and effective than the European one.
    HI Ailsa, I like that idea of the 10c refund on cans and bottles. Unfortunately in WA that does not apply. The bio basket for scraps is a good idea too...

  6. ex pat wife: I lived in Portugal for three years and it was the same, around the bins it got pretty bad by the end of the day people seems to put anything and everything there, however I would have to say it was cleaned up everynight, except holidays and sunday.


  7. I agree Sami, we're pretty lucky here..and they never take holidays off either.

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