One man's rubbish ... is another's rubbish
Side lift operator Denis Braybon, drops off a load at Mugga Lane tip. Photo: Graham Tidy
WHEN a kerbside bin is too heavy for the hydraulic arm of the garbage truck to pick up, the driver gets out to take a look.
The newer machines can hoist about 100 kilograms and some odd sights have greeted the drivers over the years, including a dismantled car engine broken up in to tiny parts and a bin full of soil.
Denis Braybon has been collecting Canberrans' household garbage for 12 years. He said it was easier to list what people did not throw out, rather than what they did.
"We've had people try and put engine blocks in bins – all sorts of stuff," he said. "Just about anything that fits into a bin, goes into a bin. People try to fit anything."
On collection day, the average Canberra bin weighs between 10 kilograms and 14 kilograms, but the director of ACT NOWaste, Chris Ware, said bins in the Gungahlin area, which was the territory's new "nappy valley", were often heavier.
The load of garbage delivered to the Mugga Lane tip by Mr Braybon on Tuesday was from Chisholm. His route took him past 100 homes and it usually takes 800 bins to fill a truck.
About 20 trucks pick up domestic waste around Canberra, each picking up two loads a day.
Mr Ware said Canberrans who regularly overfill their bins receive a warning: "The drivers put a sticker on the bin saying the reasons we haven't picked it up is because it's too heavy. You get three warning and you get told why, then we stop coming."
Last month, a Canberra man dropped his wedding ring into a recycling hopper. Staff are still searching for it but Mr Ware said jewellery that was accidently discarded in kerbside garbage was almost never recovered.
"It will probably drop out when they get to that particular bail, but all we can hope is that someone says, "Look what I found in the bottom", and then we do some magic matchmaking."
The only things picking over the active face of the Mugga Lane tip are a large flock of ibises. Mr Ware said a pelican and seagulls were also frequent visitors.
For Mr Ware, who has held the post of director of ACT NOWaste for three years, garbage is more than a job.
"I walk along and look in people's bins . . . it's interesting standing here to see what people are throwing out as you walk around."
But he does not enjoy summer. He said Christmas was the smelliest time of the year at the tip. "If people have prawns or things that are going to smell after a few days in the sun, then they should wrap it in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer until collection day. But we don't recommend that with nappies."