Yard Waste Management: Comprehensive Guide

Australia is struggling with the tonnes of organic waste we generate and discard every year. In 2018-2019, we generated approximately 15.3 million tonnes of organic waste. This accounts for about 20% of the country’s total waste generation. Of the said amount, nearly 7 million tonnes (45%) were discarded in landfills while only 6.4 million tonnes (42%) were sent for recycling.

Organic wastes are biodegradable wastes like food waste, paper and cardboard, biosolids, timber and garden waste that naturally decomposes over time. Among these, food waste is a mainstream problem that concerns the waste and recycling industry. However, yard waste is also of equal importance. Yard waste together with food waste comprises the 50% organic waste that every Australian household generates. 

Because of the assortment of household waste Australians produce every day, many are lacking the time and dedication to properly manage their yard waste, on top of other household rubbish they generate. For this matter, we have developed a comprehensive guide to help you effectively manage and deal with your yard waste. 

This guide contains everything you need to know about yard waste, including examples, yard waste segregation strategies, Sydney laws and ordinances on yard waste, and your options to dispose of your yard waste.

Examples of Yard Waste

If you have a yard, plants, or trees at home, chances are that you have to constantly deal with the fallen leaves, twigs, fruits, and other organic waste that naturally falls from your plants and trees. These rubbish items are considered yard waste. 

Yard waste, garden waste, or green waste refers to the vegetative or organic byproducts of gardening, lawn care, and landscaping activities. These rubbish items are biodegradable waste, which means that they decompose naturally, with the help of bacteria. Some examples of yard waste are:

  • Leaves
  • Weeds
  • Fruits
  • Grass clippings
  • Dead flowers and plants
  • Brush
  • Wood chips
  • Tree trunks
  • Lopped branches and stems
  • Roots
  • Wood shavings
  • Garden Debris
  • Christmas trees

Yard waste does not include roots, stumps, and other woody vegetative material that are more than six inches in diameter. Dried leaves, dirt, rocks, garden stones, pine straw, and hay also do not fall under this waste category.

What Activities Generate Yard Waste?

As mentioned, care and maintenance of your garden, lawn, and landscape generates yard wastes. Your lawn, plants, trees, and garden as a whole require regular care and maintenance to keep them attractive, healthy, and hardy. These  tasks include pruning, trimming, mowing, hedging, raking, weed removal, and mulching. 

These gardening and landscaping activities are essential to keep your grass, plants, and trees in their best state. Given that, it is inevitable that you will also regularly generate yard waste, especially during the seasons that are optimal for the growth of your grass and trees. Not to mention that trees and plants naturally shed off their leaves, branches, fruits, and other parts. 

As a result of the natural shedding and regular care and maintenance of plants, grass, and trees, yard waste accounts for a significant portion of the waste that Australian households generate. 

Effective Methods of Segregation of Yard Waste

Yard wastes, like other organic wastes, have so much productive potential. Instead of disposing them in landfills, yard wastes can be recycled and used for mulching and composting. They can also be processed to become alternatives for commercial peat, topsoil, mulch, and other soil supplements.

However, before these things can be made into reality, we first need to employ effective segregation methods of yard waste. By separating yard waste from other kinds of rubbish, we can ensure recycling efficiency and higher product quality. 

Know Your Garden Waste

Knowing the rubbish items that fall and do not fall under the yard wastes category is indispensable in the effective segregation of your yard wastes. You need to ensure that everything you place in your yard waste bin is exclusively garden waste, so they can be easily picked up during kerbside collection, and they will yield a more concentrated and high-quality compost. 

Additionally, you must also avoid mixing your yard waste with other household waste. Waste collectors won’t be able to separate them, and your yard waste will end up in landfills. In the same manner, if your garden waste has contaminated recyclable rubbish items, these items won’t be accepted for recycling anymore.

Leaf Piling

One way to effectively segregate your yard waste at home is by piling them in the corner of your yard. This strategy is simple and low-cost because all you have to do is to rake or sweep your lawn to collect leaves, flowers, twigs, grass clippings, and other garden waste. Leaf piling is a collection and segregation technique that is also already a composting method. 

However, while segregation by leaf piling can be effective, this method also has a number of downsides. 

  • A pile of yard waste may appear like a pile of general household rubbish and attract other people to dump other types of waste. Hence, your goal to segregate your garden waste will not be attained.
  • Composting your yard waste via leaf piling can take up many years before they can become compost. Thus, you have to leave the leaves in your yard for a significant amount of time.
  • Leaf piles look unattractive for your yard. It can also take up space you can otherwise use for other garden features. Moreover, they can also produce a very unpleasant smell due to the anaerobic decomposition of the yard waste underneath the pile. 
  • A huge pile of yard waste can overheat and catch fire, and result in unwanted accidents and destruction of property.

Separate Yard Waste Cart or Dumpster

Another low-cost and effective way to segregate your yard waste is by placing them in a separate container from your other household rubbish. You can rent a dumpster or buy a waste bin for your garden waste. Compared to leaf piling, this method is neater and more sanitary. This way, you can also easily dispose of your yard waste and have them collected and hauled away from your home.

Wrapping Branches in Bundles

If you have plenty of twigs and branches to deal with, you can simply bundle them together and store them until you’ve found a way to discard them. Through this method, you can ensure that your clippings are less than 6 inches in diameter. The recommended length and diameter of these branches is 1 meter and 0.3 meters, respectively. However, this segregation method only works for branches, stems, and twigs and not for any other yard waste items.

Laws and Ordinances on Yard Waste in Sydney

Sydney is not immune to the challenges of increasing rubbish generation and inadequate waste recycling and recovery. As the country’s most populated city, Sydney has even got these problems worse than any other cities. 

On this account, the council of the city of Sydney has implemented laws and ordinances that will help manage the tonnes of rubbish we generate daily. In particular, certain legislation in Sydney are aimed at curtailing and managing yard waste generation in the city. 

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) is NSW’s primary environmental protection law. This act aims to protect, restore, and improve the quality of the environment in NSW. Some provisions of this act includes:

  • Defining the term ‘waste’ for identification and regulation
  • Establishing the authority of EPA on waste related matters in NSW
  • Setting requirements for managing and licensing waste
  • Identifying offences regarding waste and setting penalties

In relation to yard waste, Section 143 of the POEO Act 1997 states that you have to ensure that your yard waste is transported to a drop-off point or waste facility that legally accepts them. As the waste generator, you, together with your waste transporter, will be mainly responsible if your waste does not end up in a lawful place.

Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2001 (WARR Act) seeks to achieve a significant reduction in all kinds of waste generated in NSW, including organics and yard waste. Aside from this, this act also includes provisions for waste strategies and programs to employ our resources in NSW more effectively and sustainably.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Control of Burning) Regulation 2000:

Open burning in NSW is prohibited at all times in NSW under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Control of Burning) Regulation 2000. This includes burning of garden and yard waste such as wood, leaves, and other household rubbish in the open or in incinerators. Backyard burning and unauthorised incineration produce a generous amount of smoke which largely contributes to air pollution. 

If you ever need to conduct open burning and incineration, you first have to seek the approval of your local council and the EPA. You also have to provide a legitimate reason for  burning in the open or in an incinerator.

Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, together with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 targets the proper composting process of green wastes. These acts include guidelines and processes to apply for new composting and related organics processing facilities. They also have rules and regulations to minimise and control odour while composting garden organics.

Illegal Dumping

Dumping rubbish illegally in Sydney is a crime that people often commit. This includes leaving bulk yard waste in public spaces such as the street, empty blocks, and waterways. Because illegal dumping is an improper waste management practice that causes pollution and severe harm to the environment, NSW EPA made sure that wrongdoers will not repeat their crime. They imposed hefty penalties ranging from $4,000 to $1,000,000.00 for individuals that are caught and from $8,000 to $5,000,000 for corporations.

Composting

Composting your yard waste and other green wastes is not mandatory in Sydney. However, it is highly recommended by the city council of Sydney because of the significant waste reduction and other benefits offered by composting. Composting is also a recycling process that aims to convert yard waste and organics into products like compost, mulch, and fertilisers. These products can be used as nutrients and enhancers for your garden soil.

Does the Local Council Collect Yard Waste?

The local government of Sydney offers free green bins for homeowners in the city. These green bins are intended to contain garden wastes and yard wastes only. Moreover, these bins are also utilised to ensure an efficient and smooth flow during kerbside collection. The usual schedule for collection of yard wastes in Sydney is every second week of the month. 

Kerbside collection of yard waste in Sydney makes your task of discarding your garden wastes easier. While that is the case, you still have an important duty to perform to ensure that your yard wastes will be collected. That duty is to ensure that all the rubbish items you put in your green bins are accepted by your council’s kerbside pickup service. 

Guidelines for Yard Waste Disposal in Green Bins

The following are the basic guidelines you need to remember to ensure that your green bins will be collected.

  • Take note of the yard waste items that are generally accepted for collection. These items include grass clippings, tree and shrub cuttings, plants, leaves, flowers, weeds, small branches, and twigs.
  • Do not throw non-yard waste items into the green bins. Moreover, avoid discarding garden waste items that are not supposed to be in the green bins, such as tree stumps, branches and roots thicker than 6 cm, plant pots, soil, rocks, pebbles, and edging materials. If these items are inside your green bins, they will not be collected. 
  • Make sure that all your garden wastes are inside the bin. If there is any yard waste outside of the bin, it won’t be qualified for collection. 
  • Close the lids of your green bins properly. Else, they can scatter onto the road and cause accidents. Moreover, open green bins can also compel other people to throw other types of rubbish into the bins. 
  • Do not overload the green bins. This may cause them to be too heavy for the waste collectors to lift and carry. Putting too much waste beyond the capacity of the green bins may also damage them.

Problems with Kerbside Collection of Yard Waste

While council pickup eases the burden of disposing yard waste from Sydney households, this disposal method has a number of disadvantages. 

  • Certain garden waste items are not qualified for kerbside collection, especially the large ones like stumps, branches, and roots. You have to rent a dumpster or hire a rubbish removal company if you need special yard waste disposal.
  • Uncollected yard waste items will remain in your curbside for another month before they can be collected again. They can be scattered by agents like wind, animals, and scavengers, resulting in a messy and risky curbside.
  • Uncollected garden waste may decompose and produce a foul-smelling odour that may cause nuisance and breathing problems.
  • Council pickup has a limited pickup schedule, and sometimes, their collection service can be delayed. Thus, they won’t be able to collect your yard waste immediately.

Drop off Locations for Yard Waste in Sydney

If you have bulk yard waste that you need to dispose of in Sydney, another method you can do is to drop them off at designated drop-off locations. These yard waste drop-off points have the facilities that will properly manage and recycle your garden wastes. 

Dropping off your yard waste is more tedious than council pickup because you have to transport your yard waste from your house. However, this will solve your problem with large yard wastes like large stumps, branches, and roots that are not accepted by council pick up services. Moreover, you can also utilise this method if you need to get rid of your yard waste at home immediately.

The following are some of the waste-drop off locations in Sydney.

  • Waste Management Facility on SPAR Road
  • Leaf and Yard Drop-Off Site located on King Street in North Sydney 
  • Recycle It Saturday located at Alexandra Canal Depot, 67C Bourke Road, Alexandria.
  • SUEZ Auburn Public Drop-Off located at Old Hill Link, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127
  • SUEZ Seven Hills Public Drop-Off on 29 Powers Road, Seven Hills NSW 2147
  • Bingo Recycling Centre located on 3-5 Duck St, Auburn
  • Bingo Recycling Centre located on 37-51 Violet St, Revesby
  • Bingo Recycling Centre located at 10 McLachlan Ave, Artarmon
  • Bingo Recycling Centre located at 38 McPherson St, Banksmeadow
  • Sydney Transwaste Industries on 160 Arthur Street, Homebush West
  • Kimbriki Resource Recovery Center at Kimbriki Road, Ingleside

What are the Disadvantages of Dropping Off Your Yard Waste?

The major downside of depositing your yard waste in public drop-off locations in Sydney is that you have to put in a lot of effort and time. If you choose this waste disposal method, you have to collect, sort, and organise your yard waste so that they can be accepted by the waste recycling and disposal facility. 

Moreover, you also have to drive and transport your yard waste to your chosen waste drop-off site. This poses a bigger problem if there are no yard waste drop-off points near you. In that case, you have to go further to find a drop-off site for your waste.

Another downside to leaving your yard waste in drop-off sites is that, compared to kerbside collection, it does not appeal much to many household owners in Sydney. After all, dealing with waste, especially organic wastes, is not agreeable. Because of this, drop-off yard waste disposal is more marketable for commercial landscapers and yard maintenance companies which need to drop off their garden wastes daily. Additionally, this method is also less likely to succeed in areas where kerbside collection of yard waste is efficient and effective.

Can You Hire a Private Removalist for Yard Waste Pick-up?

Another method you can perform to manage and dispose of your yard waste is by hiring rubbish removalists. Private removalists are highly adept to deal with all kinds of rubbish, including yard waste and organics. They can also handle garden waste items that are not accepted in kerbside pickup and drop-off locations.

Why Should You Hire Rubbish Removal Companies for your Yard Waste?

If council pickup or waste drop-off is not a good option for your yard waste, you can always hire rubbish removal companies. In fact, hiring private rubbish removalists is the most ideal option if you need to get rid of bulk household rubbish. Here are a few reasons why: 

Convenience

Convenience is the biggest selling point of hiring a rubbish removal company to handle your yard waste. All you have to do is simply book with your trusted rubbish removal company, and their team of rubbish removalists will be at your place to handle everything. They will collect, segregate, haul, recycle, and dispose of virtually all kinds of rubbish you have at home, including garden wastes and organics. Thus, you can sit back and relax while they remove your yard wastes from your property. 

Emergency Yard Waste Removal

Council pickups do not service all areas in Sydney. Likewise, not all areas in Sydney has a waste drop-off location for your yard waste. If you live in such areas, you can always turn to rubbish removal companies that offer junk removal all across the city. Most companies are available 24/7, so you can book with them anytime you need a same-day rubbish removal service. Upon confirming your booking, rubbish removalists will be on their way to your place to collect and dispose of your yard waste fast and efficiently, giving you immediate results.

Safety

Hiring professionals to deal with your yard waste in Sydney is safer than dealing with all sorts of garden waste. As experts, they have adequate knowledge and skills to effectively deal with dangerous yard waste items such as sharp branches, thorny stems, and heavy stumps. Moreover, they also have the right equipment and protective gears to keep themselves safe while on the job. 

Sustainable and Environment-Friendly Yard Waste Disposal

Organic wastes and yard wastes are a valuable resource that can be recovered and used again as garden soil enhancers. However, this will only be possible if you dispose of your garden wastes sustainably. That means segregation, composting, and proper disposal.

Rubbish removal companies have the means to recover yard waste and dispose of them in the most environmentally friendly manner. They can recycle your yard waste and organics, so they can become compost and soil enhancers for your garden and plants. Moreover, they also have a system to properly segregate all the rubbish they collect. This will ensure that no yard waste and organic rubbish will end up in landfills.

Final Thoughts

As an organic household waste, yard waste has a natural decomposition process that produces compost and soil amendment. This is probably the reason why many homeowners do not pay much attention to their yard waste. However, like other types of household rubbish, garden waste also requires attention.

Yard waste comprises a significant portion of the waste we generate that end up in landfills. This is highly problematic because organics ending up in landfills result in anaerobic decomposition, producing large amounts of toxic methane gas. Because of this, properly segregating your organic household rubbish and yard waste is crucial in reducing wastes discarded in landfills and minimising greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore, to achieve these goals and ensure waste recovery, you also have to dispose of your yard wastes properly. Council pickups, drop-off locations, and private rubbish removalists are some methods you can utilise to get rid of your yard waste. These yard waste disposal options have the adequate facilities to treat and dispose of your garden waste and organics in the most effective and sustainable manner.

Still, these methods have their own advantages and disadvantages. It’s up to you to weigh them out and choose the most ideal method for your needs. 

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