Sorting out the rubbish – Introduction

Click to hear from Ian Gordon This case study is based on a real court case between a Council in the state of Victoria, Australia, and a garbage collection company. To maintain anonymity of the parties involved, some false names are used here: the garbage collection company is called Dumpers, for example.One aspect of the dispute was about the weighbridge that records the weight of garbage trucks entering and leaving the Council tip. Garbage companies are charged a fee on the basis of the weight of garbage dumped at the tip. Dumpers alleged that there was a problem with the weighbridge; they asked an adviser, Dr. Johns, to examine weighbridge records to see if there were any “irregularities” in the weighbridge operation. Dr. Johns provided a report suggesting that there were problems with the weighbridge. The Council decided to call Ian Gordon, a statistical consultant, to review Dr Johns’ report and conclusion.

The key questions that the Council wanted to answer were:

  • Was Dr. Johns’ conclusion justified?
  • Was there anything wrong with the weighbridge?


January to July, 1997 Data collection
Early 1998 – Dumpers asks Dr. Johns to review the weighbridge operation Study design and the problem described
August, 1998 Dr. Johns reports
August, 1998 – Council asks Ian Gordon to review Dr. Johns’ report Data analysis
September, 1998 Ian Gordon reports to Council