Canberrans have been warned that the summer party season could see recycling piles return. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Canberra's suburban recycling centres are struggling to manage demand as the new operator says the summer months could see more overflowing of cans and bottles.
Weekend visitors to drop off points in Woden and Tuggeranong were greeted by bottles and cardboard recycling overflowing from designated areas, the second instance of high demand this month.
The territory's garbage and recycling collection authorities had previously blamed the large volumes of uncollected recycling on teething problems since SITA Australia took responsibility for domestic garbage and recycling collection at the end of October.
Overflowing recycling bins at the Tuggeranong recycling centre on Sunday. The situation was similar at Woden. Photo: Rohan Thomson
A Territory and Municipal Services spokeswoman said the most recent overflow was collected by SITA staff on Monday morning and waste levels at the facilities had returned to normal.
"ACT NOWaste and SITA are investigating ways to cope with the unexpectedly large volumes of additional material," the spokeswoman said.
She said an additional collection truck had been placed into service to help clear waste, ahead of further demand during the summer months. The truck will operate on a three-month trial, before a decision is made about extra permanent collections.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the truck will prioritise service of the drop off points to prevent overflow.
"As the weather warms up people drink more soft drinks and alcoholic beverages and the Christmas party and barbeque seasons commence," the spokeswoman said.
"The additional truck alone may not fix the problem during the warm weather as the majority of people drop off their recycling over the weekend. The regional drop-off centres are not emptied over the weekend as the materials recovery facility that sorts out the recycling is only open on Saturday morning."
She said ACT NOWaste and SITA Australia were currently discussing a proposal for additional weekend collections from the drop off points.
ACT NOWaste acting director David Roberts blamed a November 6 overflow on teething problems and under estimates of demand by SITA.
An August strike by the Transport Workers Union left homes in inner north and south with uncollected waste for more than a week.
ACT Environment and Sustainable Development minister Simon Corbell announced an expansion of the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre on Tuesday, with a draft variation of the Territory Plan to be tabled this week.
“Although we have excellent recycling systems in the ACT, with 70% of our waste being recycled, we still produced a million tonnes of waste last year and the existing landfill facility at Mugga Lane is expected to reach capacity in 2015–2016," Mr Corbell said.
He said comments from a public consultation process had been addressed and ACT NOWaste had consulted nearby residents before choosing to expand rather than establish another purpose built facility elsewhere in the ACT or send waste to NSW.
“On balance there are cost, environmental and social benefits in expanding the existing landfill in this location," Mr Corbell said.
“While some yellow box-red gum woodland will be affected, it will be offset to ensure no loss to this threatened ecosystem. Also, the site will be revegetated to improve its amenity.”