City of Ballarat council recycling contractor SKM confirms waste program continues

Ballarat has been given a momentary reprieve from uncertainty on its recycling scheme, after two nearby shires have been forced to dump recycling altogether.

A spokesperson for SKM, City of Ballarat’s recycling contractor, said that despite the challenges created by China’s import ban the company had been able to continue operating and providing services. 

A $13 million state government support package to impacted councils and suppliers has allowed SKM to “avoid disruption to the communities where we operate while a long term solution is implemented”.

“SKM has developed a new long term model and, over the next two weeks, we’ll be sitting down with all of the Councils we service to present our model and seek their approval so we can have it in place by 1 July this year,” the spokesperson said. 

The announcement follows both Mount Alexander Shire and Macedon Ranges Shire Council having their waste services suspended by contractor Wheelie Waste yesterday. 

Fairfax Media understands another 13 councils are on day-by-day payment plans with their bin contractors, with concerns any of those deals could fall over at any moment.

Wheelie Waste is a contractor for multinational company Visy, who sent shockwaves through Victoria’s recycling industry last month, announcing it would stop receiving recyclable materials from some contractors in Victoria in February.

Visy will only take the material if Wheelie Waste pays it about $60 a tonne, a cost Wheelie Waste is trying to pass on to councils.

Mount Alexander Shire, the second central Victorian shire to have its waste services suspended, says contractor Wheelie Waste made the decision in protest to the state government’s lack of detail regarding a rebate to address increased recycling costs.

Mount Alexander Shire Council acting director of sustainable development Rebecca Stockfeld said it was “extremely disappointing for residents, who quite rightly expect to have their bins collected”.

We have been working with Wheelie Waste to avoid this happening and we are very disappointed they are taking such a drastic step with no notice.

Rebecca Stockfeld, Mount alexnader Shire Council

“We have been working with Wheelie Waste to avoid this happening and we are very disappointed they are taking such a drastic step with no notice,” she said.

“We are in contact with other local councils in a similar position, and will continue to work with the state government and industry to resolve this as soon as possible.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council sent Wheelie Waste an ultimatum to return to work by 9am on Thursday or it would consider making alternative arrangements to ensure the service continued.

Wheelie Waste spokesman David Rako pointed the finger firmly at the councils, and said the crisis could lead to the collapse of the entire bin-collection industry.

"Financially, bin collectors are pretty close to hitting the wall," he said. "Wheelie Waste are significantly out of pocket."

In announcing the financial injection, the state government said assistance will be provided until June 30 and councils will be required to meet any increase in recycling costs from July 1 onwards.

But councils and collectors say they are yet to receive any detail – or dollars.

Environment, energy and and climate change minister Lily D’Ambrosio said: “The government is aware of the issue and encourages councils and industry to resolve this immediately to restore services.”

With The Age