Litter, waste and overflowing bins – why is it so important?

Susan Saunders

In April 2024, Residents 3000’s monthly forum investigated the issue of litter, waste, and recycling in the city. There are still some issues to be addressed.

The City of Melbourne (CoM), police and residents all agreed that they wanted the city to be a safe, clean and shiny place to be.  A city needs to attract visitors, entrepreneurs, students, workers, and residents to keep its economy working and growing. Bad visual hygiene is not going to achieve that end.

The CoM reported:

  • Graffiti – the budget for removal has increased and generally residents thought that improvements had been made.
  • Circular economy – efforts have increased to improve the recycling of waste in buildings. Separating collection for landfill, cardboard, electronic, batteries and vegetable waste is key.
  • Garbage collection – residents were pleased that the council did not increase garbage collection costs compared to other councils who had applied surcharges.

Police – concern for community safety:

Abandoned property, other litter and overflowing bins may give the impression that a location is not cared for/not attended or monitored by others, including the appropriate authorities.  Such an environment does not contribute in a positive way towards community safety, the perception of community safety and crime prevention.

Residents’ experience – the overflowing bins problem: 

There needs to be significant improvements to the frequency and reliability of collections on the street, and the CoM should embark on a proper review of how often some of the bins are overflowing. There may be the case for increasing the number of bins in certain high usage locations.

The AI is failing! Bins not so intelligent anymore …

The CoM installed “intelligent” litter bins a few years ago to provide radio alerts when the bins were full. The result was a marked improvement in litter control.  But now, with foot traffic back to pre-COVID levels, bins are overflowing, seemingly everywhere.

What is concerning is that electronic bins are showing a green light despite the fact that they are full.



Residents have taken many photos of rubbish bags stashed next to bins, and rubbish on top of bins! Also, protestors are still putting unauthorised stickers on bins. Some bins lack the QR codes stickers that allow people to report a problem. 

Instances have been reported on Collins St, Elizabeth St, LaTrobe St, A’Beckett St, Russell St, Lonsdale St, and Little Lonsdale St.  It could possibly be local apartment buildings or local businesses leaving bags on the street, which don’t fit inside the opening of the litter bin. 

A different problem is emerging due to homeless people. They are leaving different types of mess and take away food containers in doorways and sometimes on the street where they have camped, mostly in front of vacant shop fronts. Then there are pigeons and seagulls attracted to the food that may be left.  

There appears to be insufficient planning for waste removal during events.

Collaboration on three fronts: CoM, police and the city community

It is an easy task for people walking in the city to alert the CoM of overflowing bins via the QR codes posted on bins. It’s a matter of caring for our city and taking action to help authorities know of the problems that may be unintentionally missed.

People who are proud of our city, want it to prosper and aspire for it to known again as Melbourne – a great city and the most liveable in the world.

Next Forum 3000 event

On July 4 (no fireworks) at the Kelvin Club. The yet-to-be finalised title is “City Disruptions” •

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