Dumping the clean-up

A once iconic Australian tradition is set to be replaced by an on-demand service in some of Perth’s most populous suburbs.

The Town of Cambridge is bringing an end to verge clean-up this November, to help reduce litter and crime in the district.

verge clean up
Verge clean-up on Cambridge Street – photo: Tom Shanahan

The jurisdiction is trialling a valet service for twelve months, as the new method of bulk waste collection, allowing residents to have their unused collections picked up upon request.

Town of Cambridge councillor Alaine Haddon-Casey said the end to verge clean-up has been a long time coming, following a series of complaints about stolen items.

“During a typical week of verge collection, verge crawlers start coming into our streets who may be looking for things other than what is on the verge,” she said.

“Often things from car ports and front lawns go missing, not just the stuff that’s put out on the verge.”

She said the verge clean-up would often see litter spill-off front lawns and into the street.

waste on side of road
Items piled up on the side of the road spill onto a footpath in Floreat –
Photo: Tom Shanahan

“A lot of this waste ends up on roads and in gardens, so it makes a real big mess,” she said.

“We used to call it ‘bring out your dead day’, as it seemed everyone would be dumping their old broken waste on the side of the road.”

Floreat Lions Club former president John Syers said he and his family have to deal with illegal dumping on their street every year due to verge collection week.

“We live alongside a vacant block, so lots of people come by from other suburbs and they toss their waste and rubbish, that don’t belong to us, onto that block,” he said.

“It is annoying, when you think the Town of Cambridge is providing the service and other people from other areas are taking advantage of it.”

The new service, which began in late October, gives residents the power to decide when to call for their collection to be picked up.

In a press release, Cambridge Mayor Keri Shannon said the service is a more efficient way to manage the community’s bulk waste. 

“With Verge Valet, Cambridge residents can book a direct bulk and green-waste collection if and when they need it on a date that suits them,” she said.

The Town of Cambridge is not the first council to adopt the scheme, with the City of Swan, the Town of Cottesloe and the Town of Mosman Park also having valet waste services.

It comes as part of an overall commitment by Perth councils to improve recycling and waste reduction rates following the start of Containers for Change in September.

This scheme aims to improve Western Australia’s poor re-use record, with the state sitting five per cent below than the national recycling average rate.

According to the National Waste Report.

Despite the potential to reduce waste in the community, some residents are disappointed about the end of verge clean-up and are doubtful about whether the new scheme will work as well as the original.

Floreat parent Carolyn Aylmore said the verge clean-up has allowed her kids to re-use neighbours’ items as their own.

“I think it saves money and waste, as a lot of the items are taken before the council comes to collect them, as a lot of people are re-using items found on the verge,” she said.

Ms Aylmore said she and her family will be disappointed when the verge-clean up ends.

“Every time there is a verge clean up, the kids are excited to keep an eye out for hidden treasures things and things they can be creative with,” she said.

“The current system is low-effort and I am not confident the new valet service will work as well as it plans to.”