Every other week garbage pickup could be a reality as early as 2021.
Niagara Region Public Works Committee recently approved the inclusion of that option, as well as status quo, for pricing in the bidding process for a new waste collection contract, due to start in 2021. Collection of recycling and green bin material would remain weekly.
“Every other week garbage collection increases diversion, especially of organics”’ said acting commissioner of Public Works Catherine Habermebl.
Niagara residents are great at recycling, she added, but roughly “half of the households in the Niagara Region are not using their green bin,” so there’s an opportunity to improve.
The staff report that went to the Public Works Committee noted other municipalities that switched to bi-weekly garbage collection experienced an increase in the amount of waste diverted to landfill.
According to the report, “It is a best practice in Ontario and the highest residential diversion rate primarily attributable to EOW (every other week) was in York Region (66 per cent in 2016).”
In addition to increasing the use of green bins, it is anticipated that every other week pickup of garbage would likely save more than $1 million annually, based on experience in comparable municipalities.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Regional Councillor Gary Zalepa said he “sees this as an exploration, to get the price both on weekly and every other week collection, so we can make the best choice.” A recent survey on waste collection showed NOTL residents evenly split on the question of every other week pickup, with half saying they could manage it, and half saying they need it weekly.
Another option being considered is the mandatory use of clear garbage bags, a measure that has been shown to increase diversion in other municipalities. An audit of garbage in Niagara region found that 14 per cent of the contents of a typical garbage bag was recyclable material, according to Habermebl.
The idea garnered several negative comments from residents in the online survey, including “The world doesn’t need to see my garbage,” and “I’m not a fan of having my neighbours see what I purchase, eat or throw out.”
There was more support for the use of clear bags in the telephone survey, at 33 per cent, than the online survey, at just 17 per cent.
Zalepa said “clear garbage bags were clearly the biggest flashpoint … in a fuller context maybe the answer would be different, if people understood the environmental benefits, so I’d like to explore that further. I like the idea of getting more recyclables out of the garbage”.
Habermebl said recycling provides real benefits, “we’re conserving our landfill space, there are huge environmental benefits, and recycling also creates jobs, for every thousand tons we recycle there are three jobs.”
Revenue generated by the recycling program and external funding from manufacturers of recyclable material pay for the majority of the costs for collection and processing.
The proposals will go to local area municipalities for review and comments, and Zalepa noted there will also be further public consultation once the bids are received.