Wollongong's free rubbish tip policy to be reviewed

The rorting of Wollongong City Council's "fee-free" waste disposal scheme for pensioners at the Whytes Gully tip has forced a rethink of the policy, with a suggestion it could be scrapped altogether.

In a report to Monday's council meeting, staff have asked councillors to consider making changes to the fees and exemptions policy covering waste disposal, after discovering a small number of people were flouting the system.

The most serious change floated by staff is the removal of free dumping for pensioners altogether.

Currently, pensioners living within the Wollongong local government area are exempt from paying any fees when taking loads of rubbish weighing less than 100 kilograms and can make as many trips as they want.

Council figures show in the 2012-13 financial year, more than 19,000 free pensioner transactions took place, disposing of approximately 1000 tonnes of waste.

The standard charges for dumping loads of less than 100 kilograms are $9.50 (minimum) for garden and wood waste and $32 (minimum) for general waste.

However, council staff said it had become apparent that a minority of users were "pushing the boundaries" when it came to the "fair and reasonable use" of the pensioner policy.

They said changes would help stop pensioners from outside the local government area dumping waste for free and others from making multiple trips across the weighbridge in order to dump more than 100 kilograms of waste at any one time.

Councillors have been given three options to consider: abolishing the no-fee policy; cutting down free waste disposal to one (or another nominated number) of trips per year; or restricting free disposal to one trip per day.

Staff have noted in their report that imposing a dumping fee on pensioners would hurt the majority who were abiding by the rule and could potentially lead to an increase in illegal dumping.

Liberal councillor Michelle Blicavs said she was not in favour of eliminating free dumping, saying she would prefer to see it restricted to once a week or once a month for pensioners.

Labor councillor Ann Martin also backed the option of free dumping once a month, suggesting it could be trialled over 12 months and then reviewed.

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