Waverley Council Commits to Phasing Out Glyphosate Use
In the August edition of The Beast we published an article detailing what our councils were doing to minimise the use of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers in the local area. We promised to keep you posted as events unfolded.
As many of you may recall, Roundup came under the spotlight when the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer ruled in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”. This of course opened the floodgates to all sorts of lawsuits.
A landmark case was settled earlier this year in which Bayer, the makers of Roundup, were ordered to pay AUD $2.9 billion in damages to a couple claiming their non-Hodgkin lymphoma was a result of using their weedkiller. This of course made worldwide headlines and once again raised concerns about the use of and exposure to Roundup weedkiller across the globe.
Naturally, many of our readers wanted to know whether our local councils used this stuff on our local gardens and public green spaces. When we looked into the issue a few months ago, Randwick Council had already decided to phase out Roundup and introduce an organic alternative named Slasher Weedkiller across parks, open spaces, garden beds and footpaths. Meanwhile, other herbicides and non glyphosate-based weedkillers would be used to tackle weeds like clover and bindii in parks and sports fields.
Woollahra Council informed us that chemicals were only used as a last resort and that all glyphosate-based products used were in compliance with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. As for future protocol it was, and still is, in the process of reviewing its practices and exploring alternative weed control techniques including steam weeding. Once investigations are complete, a report will be presented to Council and a decision will be made accordingly.
Waverley Council was in a similar situation but has recently announced that it will immediately cease using glyphosate-based weedkillers such as Roundup in sensitive areas. Despite The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority stating that glyphosate can be used safely if the directions on the label are followed, Waverley Council has also committed to phasing out glyphosate-based herbicides completely across all of its operations by 2020/21.
What are these sensitive areas, you ask? They include all playgrounds, areas surrounding schools, sporting fields, Bondi Park, Campbell Parade, Biddigal Reserve, Bronte Park and Gully and Tamarama Park and Gully – basically anywhere likely to encounter a lot of children and heavy public use, which sounds fairly sensible.
Waverley Mayor John Wakefield said the unanimous decision of Council follows an independent review of Council’s policies and procedures governing herbicide use, as well as interest from parts of our community to see glyphosate use phased out.
“While Council officers believe that glyphosate could be safely used, the review presented alternatives to chemical use and ways that Council can continue to protect its employees, the public and the local environment,” Mayor Wakefield told The Beast.
“We will now immediately begin using non glyphosate treatments for controlling weeds including hand weeding, brush cutting, chipping, mulching and suppression of seed heads and mowing.”
“We will phase out any rostered, scheduled glyphosate applications to Council’s footpaths, kerb and gutters and stormwater infrastructure and implement alternative management options as they become available and feasible.”
We’ll continue to keep you updated.