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Body Corporates And Waste Management


Why doesn’t the council collect my bins?

Before a new development is built, developers must apply for a planning permit from council. Council will make an assessment whether the bin collection for the new development will be organised by council or through a private waste management company organised by the body corporate.

As part of the assessment, council will review a number of factors including:

  • Layout of the estate / number of units
  • Surrounding properties
  • Access restrictions
  • Proximity between the bin storage and main road
  • Amount of space on the nature strip
  • Separate bin storage location


Council would be unable to collect the bins where there would be issues with the collection truck accessing the bin storage locations. Such examples would include high rise apartments, underground bin storage or narrow driveways.

Most councils don’t have the resources for collecting waste from medium or high-density residential developments. This means that in a majority of cases, councils make private waste collection a condition for approving medium and high density developments. As such, the body corporate will need to organise and pay for a private waste company to collect the recycling and rubbish bins for owners.


What is a Waste Management Plan?

As you might have guessed, the Waste Management Plan (WMP) outlines the plan for the storage, collection and general management for general rubbish and recycling at an estate. The WMP must be prepared by the developer and submitted to council for approval before the properties are completed.

It may address things including:

  • A specific area that bins must be stored and collected
  • Any accessibility issues at the estate
  • WorkCover authority safety matters


The WMP will also factor in a number of compliance requirements in conjunction with council requirements and guidelines.


Can I change to having my bins collected by my local council?

If a strata property wants to change from private to council collection, it is best to approach the council first to determine whether this is possible in the first instance.

Council will generally be reluctant to provide a definite answer unless the owners corporation applies for an application to amend the planning permit and WMP.

In order to change the WMP, the body corporate must engage a professional consultant such as Leigh Design. They will first provide advice on whether council is likely to approve any amendments. If the owners corporation agrees to proceed they will prepare the application to amend the endorsed plans and submit a new WMP.


I thought my council rates included bin collection, am I paying twice?

The legislation states (below) that councils can charge for waste collection services, even if the ratepayer is not receiving the service!

Local Government Act 1989, section 221 – Service charges on non-rateable land:

(1)     A Council may impose in relation to any land in its municipal district which is not rateable land an annual service charge for any of the following services which the Council provides or which the Council is prepared and able to provide—

(b)     the collection and disposal of refuse

This means that councils can charge rate payers for bin collection services even if they are not using this service. It is worth contacting your local council to confirm what your council rates contribute towards.

Some councils provide a breakdown to demonstrate where the council rates are distributed so you can contact them to ask whether you’re currently being charged for waste management.


Is hard-waste collection included in my Body Corporate fees?

Most local councils will include hard-waste collections in the community services, funded by ratepayers but from our experience this can vary greatly from council to council.

Generally, each resident is eligible to one free annual hard-waste collection per household through the local council. We recommend contacting your local council to confirm whether you’re eligible.

With that in mind, most strata fees will not include hard-waste collection to avoid higher levies. The decision to include hard waste collection in the body corporate fees should be discussed between owners at an Annual General Meeting.