No compensation for 'trash packers' as green bins rolled out in Tuggeranong

Calwell homeowner Stephen McDougall is happy to use one of the first green waste bins delivered to residents in Tuggeranong who have opted in for the service. Photo by Karleen Minney.
Calwell homeowner Stephen McDougall is happy to use one of the first green waste bins delivered to residents in Tuggeranong who have opted in for the service. Photo by Karleen Minney.

The first green bins were delivered to residents in Tuggeranong last week, with collection to start later this month, but the ACT government has ruled out compensating collectors of green waste who will lose business.

The bins, which allow residents to get rid of garden waste at the kerb, will continue to be delivered over the next few weeks, ahead of the first collection on January 22.

"Over 6000 residents expressed interest in obtaining a green waste bin in Tuggeranong, and over 5000 have already signed up for the service," Transport and City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris said, welcoming the roll-out on, along with two other Labor parliamentarians.

Calwell resident Stephen McDougall, who was one of the first to receive a green bin, said it would save him trips to the Mugga Lane tip.

He had previously used a trash pack service.

"The way I do it now is use my own bags and load up a trailer and take it to the recycling depot at Mugga Lane."

McDougall said he took a trailer load of green waste to the tip every five to six weeks over spring and summer, and it would now be easier to do smaller jobs around the garden.

"For day to day lawn clippings, trimming and pruning, will all go to the green waste bin."

Green bin collection starts on January 22 for residents in Banks, Bonython, Calwell, Chisholm, Conder, Fadden, Gilmore, Gordon, Gowrie, Greenway, Isabella Plains, Macarthur, Monash, Oxley, Richardson, Theodore, Wanniassa and Tharwa.

Weston Creek and Kambah already have green bin services as part of the pilot phase, with half of homes signing up in the area already, Ms Fitzharris said. It was expected that every Canberra homeowner would be able to register for green waste collection by mid-2019, with Belconnen residents next in line, in September this year.

Trash pack operators would not be compensated for lost business through the green waste program, Ms Fitzharris said on Monday. Trash packers have complained that the rollout would "devastate" their businesses and said the government should develop an assistance package, but the minister has now ruled out financial compensation like that given to the greyhound industry.

Instead, it was considering "facilitating access to new opportunities", she said.

"That could be potentially in the waste sector but also through a variety of other mechanisms, whether that's working with the business community here or looking at potential retraining opportunities also for existing operators."

The operators had been given the chance to tender for the green bins scheme.

The ACT Liberals hold a roundtable meeting with business owners on Monday.

Tom's Trash Pack franchisee Lyal Keir, who covers the Tuggeranong area, said he didn't know what would help if compensation was not an option.

"Will they re-train me in another job? I'm a truck driver, there's no job they can retrain me in that will pay me enough to pay my bank loan," he said.

"It depends on what they offer, I don't know what to ask for, apart from 'buy my business, you've destroyed it'. We've got guys in their 60s who until a couple of months ago had a business worth a couple hundred thousand dollars, you couldn't give it away now."

John Weatherill, whose business ACT Trash Packs covers the Belconnen area, said he had not heard about the roundtable meeting, and was concerned about the future of his business when green bins came to Belconnen later this year.

"They've taken people's livelihoods, haven't they? We should be reimbursed something, I'm 60 now and my future doesn't look to good does it? No one wants to employ anyone over 60."