AUSTRALIANS should be angry about waste.
We should be angry about the amount that is produced, and our inability to avoid being a part of that production because of the things we buy and our lack of a say in how those things are packaged.
We should be angry about the cost of waste. That is particularly so in the wake of damning evidence that despite how much we now spendon recycling and other attempts to be less wasteful, whole systems are being undermined.
We should be angry about what has occurred at Lake Macquarie City Council’s Awaba Waste Management Facility, where a sub-contractor’s green waste truck routinely left the site overloaded to “substantial” or “severe” levels.
As Local Court magistrate Susan McIntyre noted in a sentencing decision that was published on Friday, the overloading represented a real public risk.
Multinational waste management company Remondis was fined more than $750,000 for its“premiere” role in the overloading. It “consigned” the waste to sub-contractor Jet Group which owned the truck. It oversaw the contract that saw Jet paid by the tonne. It received the Lake Macquarie-operated weighbridge invoices that showed the truck sometimes carried loads of up to 58.5 tonnes, when it was only licensed to carry 42.5 tonnes.
That limit is based on the truck’s ability to safely carry a load. Ms McIntyre heard evidence that on a majority of occasions the truck carried loads at least 10 tonnes above the 42.5 tonne limit.
Remondis and Jet Group have been heavily fined after prosecutions in which they both entered guilty pleas. Remondis was hit with another $250,000 in legal costs for the Roads and Maritime Services, after Remondis in 2016 initiated a Supreme Court appeal relating to the casewhich it later withdrew. Jet Group is appealing the severity of its sentence.
Lake Macquarie City Council was not prosecuted, despite operating the Awaba weighbridge which produced the invoiced weights that Remondis paid Jet Group by.
While the council was not prosecuted, Ms McIntyre made clear that under laws passed in 2005,it had obligations under a “chain of responsibility” associated with heavy vehicles, loads and waste leaving the council’s landfill site.