waste management in strata

Disposal of waste on common property

Waste disposal in strata apartment buildings

When you live in strata and community living, such as apartments or a community estate, it’s particularly important that you are mindful of how and where you dispose of your waste.

Disposing of waste incorrectly on common property is in breach of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 and most likely your complex’s own tailored by-laws. If an owner or occupier has a legitimate reason to leave rubbish on common property, they must first receive approval in advance from their strata committee.

Reducing landfill waste and understanding what can and can’t be recycled or upcycled, will also ensure your building is more sustainable by reducing the number of natural resources consumed and creating as minimal waste as possible.

By reducing, recycling and reusing, you can:

  • Reduce the amount of waste going to landfill
  • Reduce emissions, pollutions and contamination
  • Protect scare resources
  • Contribute to your council’s waste reduction targets.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) charges a levy on all waste facilities and this cost is then passed onto councils. Each year the waste levy increases to encourage the reduction of waste going to landfill and to promote recycling. The current waste levy is nearly 2.5 times more than what it was for 2009-2010. This levy is ultimately passed onto home owners in the form of rates. By reducing your waste, you help to keep your council rates down.

What to do when unauthorised rubbish appears on common property?

Encountering unwanted rubbish can be both unsightly and pose health and safety concerns.

If your building has a building manager, they should be the first point of contact to manage the situation. The building manager can then arrange for either the local council or a rubbish contractor to dispose of the materials. If the rubbish is light and manageable, the building manager may even place it in a common bin themselves.

In cases where your property lacks a building manager, notifying your cleaner to take appropriate action is advisable and inform the owners corporation, or your strata manager so they can officially record the incident. While identifying the responsible party may prove challenging, having a documented record of the occurrence can be invaluable if a similar situation arises in the future.

How to ensure the waste management of your strata scheme is effective 

New building waste

If your building is new and numerous residents are moving in at the same time, it’s likely that there will be an overflow of packaging from furniture or large products and moving boxes. Ensure your building or strata manager has organised a procedure to deal with excess bulky waste.

Regularly re-issue waste disposal by-laws and guidance notices

Start by educating residents about the proper disposal of waste. New residents come and go so it’s important to regularly reissue waste disposal guidelines and by-laws so all residents are aware of your complex’s waste procedures. Notices should also highlight the consequences of disposing of waste incorrectly. If you are a Strata + client, you can use My Property to post a reminder on the noticeboard.

Regular inspections

Regularly inspect common areas to identify any unwanted rubbish. Address any issues promptly and communicate with residents about the importance of compliance.

Security measures

If dumping continues to be a problem, consider installing security cameras in problem areas. This can act as a deterrent.

Community engagement

Foster a sense of community where residents feel responsible for maintaining the common property. This can lead to increased vigilance and compliance.

Feedback mechanisms

Create channels for residents to report rubbish dumping or other issues. This way, they can play an active role in maintaining a clean and safe environment.

Follow through on any by-law breach

If your waste disposal procedures are clear, and residents are still not following procedures, it’s important to follow up quickly with any residents that are not following the rules so they understand improper waste disposal will not be overlooked. One building under our management used their resident’s Facebook group to share photos of cardboard packaging that had not be collapsed, and examples of people not putting the right things in the correct bins even with signage and bin stickers above to guide them. Your strata committee can issue a formal written warning and if there is repeat offending, you may wish to issue a by-law breach notice.

Review the number and type of bins

If your waste area has insufficient bins, it’s more likely that you’ll experience issues. Ensure your strata complex has sufficient bins and the correct balance of general and recycling waste options. There may also be potential to add separate green waste disposal facilities.

Garbage chute 

Garbage chutes are convenient but unfortunately misused which can be costly for the owners corporation. If you live in a high rise with garbage chutes, ensure you provide owners and tenants with detailed instructions on use. Don’t be afraid to let residents know how much garbage chute repairs are costing the owners corporation, and hold repeat offenders accountable. Improving communication with residents about proper use is key to preserving long-term functionality.

Recycling and good waste management practices

Find out what can be recycled in your council catchment area

Did you know that what can be recycled differs according to what council catchment you fall under?  The triangle on packaging refers to international labelling, so if your item was manufactured in another country, it may be recyclable there, but this doesn’t mean it will be in NSW. Recycling rules are different depending on where you live because your local council coordinates your recycling, depending on the particular terms with their recycling supplier. Visit your local council’s website to find out what can be placed in the yellow bin. A list of all NSW council’s can be found in the Local Government Directory. For more information on what can be recycled under what catchment visit irecycle.com.au

Provide residents with recycling guidelines

Once you understand what can be recycled in your council area, educate all residents by erecting posters in the waste room, share them on your community’s online group, and on the common property notice board. Councils often provide free waste posters and stickers.

Educate residents on upcycling or re-use

Items that are in good working order can be given away, sold, on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, or donated to charities. One strata complex under our management set up a dedicated room for upcycled goods. Items that were still in good working order were left in there so that others could make use of them.

Consider other recycling options

Remember, even though an item can’t be collected through the council’s kerbside recycling collections, doesn’t mean that they can’t be recycled. There are also other recycling methods such as Resource Recovery Centres, battery recycling at Battery World, soft plastics to supermarkets, the household chemical cleanout service, and recycling e-waste at appliance stores.

Be mindful of food waste

Did you know that 38% of rubbish in NSW garbage bins is food waste and that 20% of the food Australians throw out is because they buy too much or don’t store their food correctly? Once in the landfill, food waste produces greenhouse gases that impact our environment so it’s important to only buy what you need. Your strata complex may also want to consider a compost bin if you have the room to install one.

Recycle food scraps

A number of councils, including City of Sydney, Canterbury Bankstown, Randwick Council, Inner West Council, Woollahra Council are trailing food scrap recycling, or adding food waste collection to the green-lid garden bin. Be sure that you check first whether your council offers this service, and follow instructions on disposing of food scraps.

Bulky goods collection

Bulky goods collections are a free service provided by council. However, any items collected of bulky goods are compacted, crushed and sent to landfill so the collection should be a last resort and only used for items that can’t be upcycled.

If you are experiencing issues with waste management in your building, contact your SCA accredited Strata Plus strata manager for assistance.

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