How the Rubbish Pick-Up System in Australia Needs to Change

Australian waste disposal systems must undergo dramatic reform, as their current approach is unsustainable and has serious environmental ramifications.

Many councils provide hard rubbish collection services; booking must be done online and specific instructions must be adhered to for collection. Visit your council’s information page for more details; failing to book may result in fines for leaving behind rubbish on the street.


All across Australia, local councils collect rubbish and recycling from residents through bin services. Each council imposes different rules regarding which items can go into which bin, when they will be collected, and how often they occur. Most councils have an explicit color-coding scheme indicating which bin contains which item, while others use standard wheelie bin designs – with red lids being allocated for general trash bins yellow ones for recycling bins, while lime green lids indicate green waste bins.

Councils also offer curbside large item collections, where residents can put any unwanted large items outside for collection – like old furniture and appliances that no longer work – for collection. Most Canberra households qualify for free collections per year. Other options for disposing of bulky trash may include selling them off to charity, selling locally, or using community trash hubs.

Many councils employ a single-stream recycling system in which mixed materials (plastics, glass, and paper) go directly into one bin for recycling. Although this is more convenient for households than separate bins for each type of material (plastic, glass, and paper), this approach may result in lower-quality recycled products; food-contaminated paper or broken pieces of glass could end up mixed in, meaning less your rubbish ends up recycled than expected.

Once your rubbish has been collected it will be sent to a material recovery facility where it will be sorted. Items that can be recycled will be sent off to recycling plants both domestically and overseas, while any non-recyclable waste will be landfilled – this process is costly for local governments who must pay an imposed levy per tonne landfilled.

Reducing and recycling as much rubbish is essential, so making sure you use appropriate bins, sort your rubbish carefully, and purchase or create your reusable shopping bags are key steps towards minimizing waste production and increasing recycling rates. Furthermore, overflowing bins may increase pesticide levels in your house resulting in infestation by rodents and insects.


Rather than fill up your wheelie bin with large amounts of waste, consider hiring a skip hire service or professional rubbish removal service to collect and transport it in separate containers labeled accordingly to prevent pollution in the environment. Go here – to find out more. It’s important to ask any questions you may have before getting the work done, however.

Australia is notorious for sending its waste directly to landfills, an activity that releases harmful toxins into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming. Other countries are taking measures such as anaerobic digestion – which reduces greenhouse gas emissions while turning garbage into energy or biofertilizer – to divert less trash to landfills.

In Australia, to reduce landfill usage we must embrace a circular economy and adopt its practices. To do this effectively we need to implement waste minimization steps such as: Reducing, reusing, and repurposing materials we utilize – such as old plastics and metal alloys into 3D printer feedstock for 3D printers or food trash into electricity generation plants – this way saving on fuel costs while decreasing environmental impacts.

Most Australian councils offer curbside collection for general rubbish, recycling, and green refuse. Residents are encouraged to use wheelie bins for these waste streams, with Brisbane City Council’s bin and recycling app providing collection dates. Furthermore, Health, Safety, and Amenity Local Law 2021 mandates that bins must be placed on footpaths or curbs 24 hours before the collection date; thereafter they should be removed as soon as practicable after collection has taken place.

Some councils discourage street scavenging for ecological and waste management reasons, while others threaten fines; but some hard rubbish warriors and diehard collectors continue their practice regardless. Darebin Council in Melbourne’s inner north runs two annual hard rubbish collections each spring and winter while also issuing warnings that any attempts at street collecting could incur fines of $200-300 each time it occurs.

Green Waste

In various cities I have lived, rubbish collection involved either one person with a truck (in Braunschweig, Germany) or a large team of council workers working through the night to collect and remove litter. In Canberra however, collection is much simpler as its focus shifts more toward recycling and green trash collection.

The lime-green lidded green trash bin accepts garden organics, food scraps, and soiled paper for recycling at Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre; additional fees apply – for more information please see the City’s Waste and Recycling Guide.

Each financial year, the City provides residents with three residential general rubbish and two green waste kerbside collections for collection in their suburb. You can view your collection date on the kerbside rubbish calendar; your bin must be put out by 6 am on its respective collection day for collection to occur properly and be removed from the street after collection has occurred.

Australians are becoming more concerned with our waste and its environmental impact, yet many struggle to completely rid their home of debris after living in urban environments for extended periods.

Annual hard rubbish days have become an annual tradition for upcyclers and “waste warriors”, who hunt around streets looking for items they can repurpose or sell on. However due to environmental and wastage concerns, councils are moving away from annual collections; for instance, the City of Melbourne now provides weekly services for bulky waste collection as well as monthly collections of green waste.

Brisbane City Council’s Kerbside Large Item Collection service is open to all residential properties within their local government area, using their search tool and rubbish calendar for more information on when your suburb’s collection will occur. Residents can also learn more about other resource recovery solutions for larger items that cannot be donated, sold, or recycled in home recycling bins or general rubbish bins.


At a time when the waste industry is flourishing, councils often opt to outsource their garbage collection services to reduce costs and focus on other areas of their business. Unfortunately, however, this decision has generated controversy as reports indicate local councils may pay over double what private companies charge them.

Rubbish collection is an essential service that should be provided by the government, so councils are working hard to reduce waste through sustainable practices and increased recycling, however, due to increased workloads and staff shortages this has become more challenging than expected – recent reports indicate that waste services are at breaking point and taking longer than ever to collect rubbish.

Councils across Australia are grappling with meeting residents’ waste collection expectations. Some residents have been left with overflowing bins while others have had theirs completely overlooked. A Councillor from Sydney has encouraged residents to contact their representatives and demand change.

Local communities have responded with dismay. Some individuals have taken to social media campaigns to bring light to this issue and push for change; one post from a Councillor from Erskineville received over 80 negative comments since posting.

Local councils in Australia traditionally outsourced their garbage collection services through tender processes to private companies. This allowed them to avoid owning and operating their truck fleets while making optimizations to services and offering customers various options. Whether or not this option is best depends on one’s view of the economy and whether or not a role should be assigned to the government.

Australia was previously shipping most of its rubbish for recycling purposes to southeast Asia; this arrangement has since been terminated, forcing many local councils to end their commingled recycling services or significantly raise prices accordingly.

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