Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A matter of definition ....

Monday – I pruned a lot of the lower branches off my flowering Pear tree. I worked at no more than head height using a pair of long-handled pruning shears and a small branch cutting saw. I just let the branches fall on the ground.

After an hour I was done and the ground was littered with small branches. I left them on the ground, re-sharpened my shears and saw and put those tools away. So far so good.

Tuesday – Rhonda asked me what I was going to do with all the branches – did I want her to ‘chop them up and put them in the garbage bin?’ I said No! I was going to cut them down and put them in the trailer and take them up to the Green Waste Recycling area (for which we are charged $4.50AUS for the privilege!).

I worked away and loaded them into  the trailer.

I had checked the Green Waste requirements – Prunings under 20mm diameter (1 inch) and less than 1 metre (3 foot) in length were acceptable for recycling into garden mulch. I carefully checked my load – all prunings were 15mm (max) and no longer than half a metre, so fine!

Wednesday – I towed the trailer to the tip and stopped at the entrance boom gate. The operator came out and asked what I had and I said:

“Prunings, tree branch prunings!”
“Nope! Not acceptable, they will not go through the muncher!”
“But they are under 20mm in diameter and less than 1 metre in length!”
He lifted the trailer cover and had a look.
“Nope! They are too big!”
“But, they are within limits!” I protested.
“I don’t care,” he said, “I reckon they are too big – take them up and throw them in the landfill hopper!”

Now I knew that this would incur a charge of $9.00AUS, so I said ‘No!’ I turned the vehicle and drove up town and stopped near one of the businesses owned and operated by an elected member of council.

“Jim, have you got a minute to come outside?” I asked – he wasn’t busy, the shop was empty.
“Yes,” he said, “what’s the problem?”
I showed him and explained to him what had happened.

“That’s not right,” he said! We went back inside and he got on the phone, calling the Waste Services Manager at the Council offices. I listened to the conversation. Eventually he hung up and came back to me.

“The Waste Services Manager says the prunings are within the limits and he should take them ….. but ….. it’s hard to get Waste Service officers at the Transfer Station so he is going to defer to his judgement on the matter!”

I was furious – steam was coming out of my ears. Jim went on to say:

“He’s going to ring the operator at the Transfer Station and speak to him but the Operator’s decision is final as to whether he accepts them or not!”

So I drove back to the Transfer Station. I could tell by the look on the Operator’s face that he had sized me up as a ‘Smart Ass’, s ‘Wise Guy’.

“What’cha got?” he asked?
“Prunings, tree branch prunings!”
He lifted the trailer cover and had a look.
“Nope! They are too big!”
“But, they are within limits!” I protested.
“I don’t care,” he said, “I reckon they are too big – take them up and throw them in the landfill hopper!”

He could see me fuming.
He smirked and added – “I’ll only charge you the $4.50 fee to put them into the landfill hopper!”

I paid the fee and took them up and dumped them in the landfill hopper. I reflected that if I had let Rhonda cut them up and put them in the garbage bin they would have gone directly to the landfill in the garbage truck. But, it was the principal of the matter. I was trying to do the right thing and recycle my green waste.

Later that day  - I had to attend a Rotary meeting. The Waste Services Manager from council was also there. After the meeting, during supper, I spoke to him about the matter.

“Oh! That was you, was it?” he said. “You should have called me direct and I would have instructed the Operator to take them but I was going to be bullied by some elected councillor. Why didn’t you call me?”

I was so flabbergasted I stood there with my mouth flapping and no sound coming out. After half a minute I just turned and walked away, utterly amazed at the games bureaucrats play and how little regard some appear to have for their own policies!


joeh said...

I call them the recycle nazis. Give an asshole a little power and that is what you get.

JohnD said...

Local government is one too many levels of government!

Susan Heather said...

I have a new firm supplying my wheelie bin (slightly cheaper). It takes green waste and bagged household waste. I had assumed that it was separated and the green waste was mulched but have just discovered that it is all just dumped.

JohnD said...

Yeah! Our Waste Services Manager told me that Green Waste Recycling is ran at a loss and, personally, he'd rather see it go to a landfill site for garden waste as 99.9% of it is compostable and would return to the soil with time!