Anger is growing over the city of Sydney’s garbage collection debacle

Scott Mackay, a Potts Point resident, said the suburb has a long-standing problem of overflowing trash cans and street litter.


“This was reported to the council on numerous occasions and nothing ever happened,” he said. “Yes, the rubbish will eventually be cleared away, but not after it’s plagued the streets for days.”

Mackay said some buildings don’t have adequate bins for the garbage generated.

“As a result, their bins are regularly overflowing with sacks and trash littering the ground and blowing down the streets and sidewalks,” he said.

Other property owners failed to remove the trash cans from the street, Mackay said. “So they don’t care if their bins are overflowing, smelly or attract flies, birds and rodents because they are outside their buildings.”

Waste workers have been locked in a labor dispute with Cleanaway, the city’s municipal solid waste contractor, for months over wages and working conditions, with members of the Transport Workers Union striking for the sixth time earlier this month.

Union Secretary of State Richard Olsen wrote to councilors this month urging the city council to intervene in the dispute.

Liberal Councilman Lyndon Gannon said he receives daily complaints about missed pickups and dumping.

Liberal Councilman Lyndon Gannon said he receives daily complaints about missed pickups and dumping.

“The company negotiations have been going on for eight months and we are getting stuck,” he said.

A Cleanaway spokesman said the company believes it has offered a new corporate agreement that is fair, reasonable and more favorable to employees: “While negotiations have been lengthy and unfortunately impacted local residents, we hope for a quick resolution.”

A spokesman for the City of Sydney said the ongoing industrial action is regularly affecting household waste collection for some residents.

“This industrial action is causing some delays, particularly in illegal landfill collection and booked bulky waste and metal/appliance collection,” he said.

He said the council is working with Cleanaway to minimize disruption to residents but is not involved in negotiations over pay and terms.

Independent councilwoman Yvonne Weldon said she has received countless calls from residents who regularly face late and missed pickups.


“You shouldn’t have to go to your local council to have your bins collected, but when these residents report these issues through the community hotline, their reports fall on deaf ears,” she said.

Weldon said the council’s waste service “has been failing the community for quite some time”.

“If Cleanaway cannot provide consistent services, the city government needs to allocate more internal resources to ensure waste management meets community expectations,” she said.

Liberal Councilman Lyndon Gannon said he receives daily complaints about missed pickups and dumping.

“On the phone, people would yell at me and say, ‘I don’t care whose contractor this is.'” “Come over here and pick it up yourself,” he said.

Gannon said ward council staff were working overtime to collect the garbage cans that were supposed to be picked up by the refuse workers.

“It’s not good enough and it has a flowing effect – they always catch up when there are strikes,” he said. “Lucky it’s winter and the garbage cans don’t stink all over town.”

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Justin Scaccy

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