Wollongong's free dumping loophole closed

Wollongong City Council has closed a free dumping loophole for pensioners that had resulted in some people making multiple daily trips to the tip.

The council had been allowing pensioners to make unlimited trips to Whytes Gully tip, providing each load was less than 100 kilograms.

This led to a segment of the community exploiting the system, either by coming from out of the area and using Whytes Gully, or by making multiple trips so each load was less than 100 kilograms.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Cr David Brown made light of the issue by suggesting that some people were loading ‘‘nanna’’ into the car and driving to the tip to take advantage of her pension card and the free dumping it allowed.

But Cr Brown also said he has been informed by council officers that about 5 per cent of people waving pensioner cards were making multiple trips to the tip a day to take advantage of the loophole.

‘‘Whenever you don’t put a price on something, there’s always as incentive for people to do the wrong thing,’’ Cr Brown said yesterday.

‘‘It’s unfortunate but there are some people out there who will try and rort any system you put up.’’

The report before councillors on Monday night estimated that the policy cost council $25,000 a year in lost revenue.

The report recommended council adopt one of three options  – scrapping fee-free disposal for pensioners, limiting it to a set number of disposals a year or restrict it to one a day.

Councillors voted unanimously to allow pensioners two free disposals a year of waste totalling less than 100 kilograms.

‘‘It shouldn’t affect any legitimate users of the service, especially when it’s combined with the two kerbside pick-ups a year,’’ Cr Brown said.

He said  those rorting the system were costing council in other ways.

‘‘Council gets charged by the state government per tonne of stuff we dump at the tip,’’ Cr Brown said.

‘‘That’s why your tip costs are pretty expensive – I think two-thirds of that is the state charge.

‘‘So really everyone else is subsidising them, so if we can find some saving there, it’ll help to improve council’s bottom line and is another measure to avoid us putting up rates elsewhere.’’

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