A band of volunteers and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) personnel conducted a massive clean-up of illegally dumped household items in the Colquhuon State Forest over the weekend. A staggering 35 litter sites were identified in the state forest in what has become a dumping ground for lazy, irresponsible individuals who discard no longer needed items. About a dozen volunteers from the Bairnsdale 4WD Club and 4WD Victoria, using their own vehicles, were assisted by three DELWP staff in loading 10 tandem trailers of general waste found in the bush. The haul included four car bodies, which had been dumped in difficult to access locations. But the tenacious volunteers were determined and managed to extract the dumped vehicles to the roadside to be picked up. Twelve car tyres and half a trailer load of concrete were also recovered. Other items collected in the massive clean-up included three mattresses, television sets and other household rubbish. In all, the waste filled seven steel bins of general rubbish. In a statement, DELWP said “it is disappointing that a few people do the wrong thing by dumping rubbish and making a mess for the majority of people doing the right thing.” But is it just a few people? Thirty-five litter sites in Colquhuon State Forest would indicate it’s a lot more. It would also appear the bush and quiet country lanes are becoming easy dumping grounds for those who can’t be bothered taking their unwanted chattels to the municipal tip, a recycling depot or an opportunity shop.
East Gippsland Shire Council confirmed it has had an increase in complaints of illegal dumping in recent weeks, although the scourge of unlawful dumping “is an issue throughout the year”. Council offers the free disposal of whitegoods and other recyclables at its transfer stations. Free disposal of e-waste, such as televisions, computers and their accessories is available at the Bairnsdale landfill site under the national television and computer recycling scheme. Bairnsdale landfill is a permanent ‘detox your home’ site and also a paint recycling point. Both of these services are free. East Gippsland Shire is one of the few councils to also offer free green waste disposal at its facilities. The Bairnsdale Tip Shop can recycle your mattress at a small charge and council includes a household hard waste voucher with its rates notices, which are valid for one cubic metre of hard waste. Council director of operations, Chris Waites, said council’s waste disposal fees are set at a level “to enable cost recovery, not for profit”. Mr Waites says “given the number of initiatives council has implemented to assist and educate community members to recycle a wide range of items and dispose of their waste responsibly, it is disappointing to see illegal dumping.” “As well as being unsightly, the waste could pose a danger to our environment and waterways,“ he said. “I would urge members of the public to report any suspicious activity that they believe may be associated with illegal rubbish dumping so it can be investigated.” Anyone who witnesses illegal dumping or finds dumped rubbish can report it to the Environment Protection Authority or East Gippsland Shire Council. Council will investigate illegal dumping on council-owned or managed land. Items should be left in place so council staff can collect evidence.