A READER recently contacted GC&M News asking if we could find out why there were no recycling bins provided at the new bus stops being built along roads around the Bruce Highway upgrade works from Caloundra Road to Sunshine Motorway.
“You’d think in this day of heightened environmental consciousness, a recycling bin would be a standard feature for something like a bus stop so that people can do the right thing,” the reader said.
In fact, if you look around you will find that there isn’t a recycling bin to be found at any bus stop anywhere across the hinterland.
How then are people, as the reader rightly asked, supposed to do the right thing and reduce their waste to landfill?
An initial enquiry to the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), which through its Translink branch manages the public transport network and the bus stops, was referred to Sunshine Coast Council.
It appears that there is an arrangement that, although the bus stops are part of Translink’s infrastructure, the council assumes the responsibility for planning and managing the bins at bus stops.
To maintain some uniform standards, TMR has created a document related to the planning, design and construction of bus stops as part of its ‘Public Transport Infrastructure Manual’.
Although these guidelines recommend that as part of environmentally sustainable design initiatives the planning should incorporate a recycling bin at a bus stop, it seems that is just not happening.
When asked why council didn’t provide bins at bus stops, a council spokesperson said the council aspires for the Sunshine Coast to be Australia’s most sustainable region and, with “towards zero waste to landfill by 2041” being its ultimate goal, the council encourages all residents to recycle whether they are at home or out and about.
“If possible, hang onto recyclables until you can pop it in the right bin,” the helpful council spokesperson said.
The reason the council doesn’t put recycling bins in all public places is that it says people just can’t be trusted.
“Public place recycling bins experience a high contamination rate with people putting in dog waste bags, cigarette butts and other non-recyclables,” the spokesperson said.
When asked how they determine what public places do and don’t have recycling bins, the spokesperson said it was determined on a case-by-case basis.
“It takes into consideration many variables including how the area is used, the access available for the trucks and distance to the bin location, local amenity and aesthetics, and consideration of local residents, businesses, public health and safety, and if there is adequate and suitable space as the waste/recycle pair have a very large footprint,” the spokesperson said.
GC&M News asked the local War on Waste Glasshouse Country group what they thought. Group spokesperson Liz Harris said that in this day and age having recycling bins at bus stops was something that should be a given.
“Recycling works best when you make it easy and convenient for people. Every time there isn’t a recycling bin next to a landfill bin, that means that recyclable items end up going into landfill when they don’t need to, rather than being turned into new products,” Liz said.
“War on Waste Glasshouse Country would strongly urge council to look at including recycling bins wherever it can, including at bus stops.”
It’s not like the provision of recycling bins is anything new or unusual. They’ve been a part of our public spaces and our homes for decades now.
At least in some community spaces council recognises the civic and environmental benefits of making it easier for people to recycle.
Limited numbers of recycling bins are included in some public spaces … wherever council deems them appropriate … just not at bus stops.
Walk along the main street of nearly all local towns and you’ll see that the recycling bins are few and far between.
It seems the commitment to recycling has stepped up if the number of bins installed as part of the new Landsborough streetscape is anything to go by.
However, it’s not because council has stepped up its approach.
When asked about the extra bins in Landsborough, the council spokesperson suggested that it was just good luck.
“In Landsborough, space has allowed for the provision of a few extra recycling bins above what has been provided in towns nearby,” the spokesperson said.
What do you think?
Would you like to see a recycling bin alongside every waste rubbish bin in our public spaces?
Let us know by emailing your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org