Council trials alternatives to glyphosate weedkillers in shire's public areas

Sutherland Shire Council workers will use a high pressure steam machine as an alternative to glyphosate products to kill weeds near schools, hospitals, child care centres and shopping centres.

The council decided in June, following complaints by many residents and moves by other councils, to phase out glyphosate products "when practical" because of safety concerns.

Glyphosate is an active ingredient of commonly used Roundup. The council uses a similar product, Clear-Up Bio 360.

A progress report provided to the last council meeting said the parks operations unit had trialled two alternate organic based weed control products and was about to commission a third option - a recently acquired steam weeder unit.

The report said steam cleaner was being fitted to a vehicle and, once installed, would be used as an alternative to glyphosate "in sensitive areas such as near schools, hospitals, child care centres and shopping centres".

The report said an organic weedkiller Slasher had been trialled earlier at Camellia Gardens and again, since August, 2019, at the council's parks operations depot "with limited success".

"Preliminary results indicate Slasher is very effective in killing the leaf of the weed, however regrowth of the leaf appears after two to three weeks as the product does not appear to affect the root system of the weed," staff advised.

The report said another organic weedkiller, Bio Weed, had commenced in August 2019 around the council depot "with early results indicating a slow weed kill".

"It is too early at this stage to determine if the weeds will return but this will continue to be monitored," it concluded.

The report said a trial of Arsenal Super Herbicide was considered, but a risk assessment "deemed the product as unsuitable for use in accordance with council's workplace health and safety systems".

Staff continued to press for the option of glyphosate products, saying "selective use remains an effective tool in council's suite of management practices", enabling it to meet its legislative requirements.