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Rubbish Cops Are About To Hit The Beat

A ‘Bin Feedback Program’ Is Set To Be Launched In Parts of Melbourne

If you’re the sort of person who flippantly tosses the wrong type of trash into the wrong bin then you better start thinking a little harder about whether or not what you’re binning is recyclable because rubbish cops are about to hit the beat.

In the City of Stonnington, which includes Malvern and Armadale, the local council is proposing a plan to introduce a ‘bin feedback program’ monitoring residents bin behaviour. There’ll be a three-month education campaign that will get everybody up to speed on stuff they should have learnt in primary school and then bins will be monitored for twelve months to make sure the right rubbish is going in the right bin.

Households in the area will be selected at random and have their bins checked. If they’ve done the wrong thing by the rubbish, photos of the garbage will be taken and notes will be left on the bins and a leaflet will be popped into the letterbox.

If it happens again, say, a newspaper ends up in the regular trash, then an education letter will be sent.

And if it happens a third time, for example if that education letter is thrown into the wrong bin, then they will get a phone call and possibly even a visit from a council appointed ‘waste education officer’. This officer will walk down the drive-way, let out a deep sigh, and then knock on the door and tell you how to put rubbish in the bin properly.

Stonnington councillor Alexander Lew doesn’t like the idea. He doesn’t think it’s appropriate for “Council ‘rubbish cops’ to go rifling through people’s bins, taking photos. This policy of mass surveillance, which the Greens are supporting, is Orwellian.” Which is quite a dramatic way to describe somebody walking around checking whether you’ve put your paper and plastic in the right bin. 1984 wasn’t a story about somebody poking their head into people’s recycling bin to try and help.

Some residents think it is an invasion of privacy, which is definitely the reaction people who are putting weird stuff in their bins would have. A more level-headed reaction might be: “Boy, that job would suck, having to stick your head in my bin and see if I put the cereal box in the right spot. Maybe I could help out by putting the right things in the right bins”.