LAKE Macquarie City Council has begun reviewing its bulk waste collection service, as some suburban streets have been turned into illegal dumping grounds.
The council has a twice-yearly service to collect up to two cubic metres of bulk waste from outside each household.
According to Paul Collins, the council's waste services manager, about 12,000 tonnes of material are collected annually.
"It's valuable, it's well received," said Mr Collins of the service. "It gives the community the opportunity to get rid of its bulk waste."
But it seems not just local residents have been grasping the opportunity to get rid of unwanted items.
Rob Robertson, the coordinator of the Hunter-Central Coast Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad, said a few took advantage of the system by going into an area scheduled for a collection and depositing waste.
"People come along and see kerbside piles, and then they put theirs on someone else's pile, he said. "That's illegal dumping, and you [the dumper] could find yourself with a $2000 fine.
"I wouldn't say it's getting worse. There is a very small percentage of people who are abusing the system and put it at risk for everyone else.
"Just because it's a service, it's not a bottomless service."
In Wangi Wangi recently, a large pile of household items appeared in Beach Road. A home-made sign indicated the waste had been dumped from a vehicle.
The pile had been left on the side of the road in the residential area for weeks, before being removed on Thursday.
Rob Robertson confirmed RID Squad officers were investigating who put the waste there, and urged anyone with information to contact his team.
Beach Road resident Michael Smith said that was just one of four piles dumped in the street recently, including one lot outside his place, which remained for a month before being cleaned up. "I think it's disgusting, and, unfortunately, we're almost getting used to it now," he said. "There were nappies, clothing, underwear. It was quite offensive. You wouldn't want to go through it and touch the stuff."
Michael Smith said there was also the issue of people sifting through the bulk waste left for collection, disturbing the residents' peace.
Rob Robertson said that practice sometimes created another problem, as items were removed, taken to remote locations and sorted. Some materials were kept, and the rest was often dumped.
The mayor of Lake Macquarie, Kay Fraser, said it was "very disappointing" for people to dump rubbish in the city and place "a blight on the environment".
"It reduces the outlook of our city," Cr Fraser said. "We're in 2021, and the practice should not be continuing to happen."
Paul Collins said the illegal dumping of materials at bulk waste collection sites outside homes was "certainly not out of control, but I'm conscious that it happens".
Mr Collins said the council was looking at alternatives to having householders put bulk waste at the kerbside twice a year, including the possibility of introducing an on-call service.
One of the reasons for considering options for bulk waste collection, he said, was "to prevent opportunities for people from outside of that address or suburb coming and dumping on those piles", and "to reduce the opportunity of illegal dumping".
He said that option would "make a site look better", as materials wouldn't be piled in the street, and it would "give residents the option to have a service when they require it".
"As a council officer, I want to help find a solution to keep the area clean and tidy," Mr Collins said.
Councillor Fraser said any change to the service would involve community consultation.
"There are always opportunities to look at how we collect our bulk waste, and we'd talk with our communities about that," she said.
Wangi Wangi resident Michael Smith welcomed the on-call collection option, saying, "that would be very impressive".
"It sounds like a much better way to do it; it sounds convenient," Mr Smith said, adding that it was time to change the present system.
"This council thing has been wonderful, but it's now being abused."
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