Storm Gribble, environmental committee prefect at Girls Grammar bins a bottle.
Storm Gribble, environmental committee prefect at Girls Grammar bins a bottle. Chris Ison

Rocky bins its green credentials

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Council’s green credentials are in tatters today with a revelation that it has chosen to charge schools thousands of dollars a year for recycling.

The Morning Bulletin understands that a number of schools have already decided to seek private sector alternatives rather than pay $170 a year for each yellow-topped bin on their premises.

Last year the charge was $160 a property, irrespective of how many recycling bins were in use.

Most schools actively encourage pupils to recycle and have enthusiastically embraced the principle.

A spokesman for one school, which uses up to 15 recycling bins, said if it stuck with the council service its annual bill would easily top $2000 and a private company had quoted just $250 to recycle the huge amount of cardboard, paper and plastics it generated.

Council’s health and regulatory services committee chairman Cr Tony Williams said yesterday the policy was nonsense and should be changed at the earliest opportunity.

“It’s critical that we promote recycling in schools and teach young people about the benefits of recycling,” said Cr Williams. “This is not the way to do it and not what we intended.”

Together with other local authorities in Central Queensland, the council spends thousands on advertising to encourage recycling through the Recycling Heroes campaign.

“There is no doubt that schools should not be classed as businesses and we should be treating them the same as charities. I will take this to the council table and ask my colleagues to support a change.

“We should waive fees for schools under a community service obligation,” he said.

A council spokesman confirmed that schools were non-residential premises and therefore classed as commercial for waste collection purposes.

“As a Type Two business, Waste and Recycling is required to at least price its services with regard to full cost recovery.

“It is required to apply a user pays principle to its business activities.

“A recent review of these fees and charges indicated the actual cost to collect and process recycling is $170 a bin, so this is the charge being applied.

“The previous charge cannot be maintained unless the council subsidises the schools at a cost to other ratepayers who are waste customers or through the general rate.”

But Robin Fay, enterprise manager at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School said schools would feel let down.

“We find this a disappointing development. Rockhampton Girls Grammar School has fostered a student lead, environment committee,” she said.

“Last year we won an award for recycling and being an environmentally friendly workplace.

“The school in recent years has changed the way waste is handled on the campus and we now have 20 small recycling stations in the school grounds.

“Recyclables, cardboard, batteries, food waste, etc are separated out on campus to reduce the volume of waste going to land fill and allow for more recycling and energy savings.

“It is also to teach the students that they make a difference to community issues.

“The CQ Local Government Association is looking to encourage similar systems for other schools in Central Queensland. This sounds like schools will be penalised for doing the right thing. What happened to the recycling hero campaign?”

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