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Jul. 27, 2021 | Tuesday
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Garbage pickup will be every two weeks starting next fall
Niagara Region has approved changing weekly garbage collection to every other week, starting in October 2020. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

Starting next October, garbage across Niagara will be picked up every second week.

Niagara regional council has approved changing the current weekly garbage collection to alternate weeks, while continuing to pick up recycling and green bin organic waste weekly.

The decision was made at a special council meeting Thursday in a 19-8 vote. Lord Mayor Betty Disero and Regional Coun. Gary Zalepa voted in favour of the change.

A major goal of the change is to get more Niagara residents to use their green bins to recycle organics, like food leftovers.

The average garbage container put out to the curb across the region every week contains 50 per cent organic material, 14 per cent recyclable items and 36 per cent garbage, Niagara’s acting director of waste management services told councillors.

Catherine Habermebl said biweekly collection shouldn’t be seen as a reduction in services.

The volume of collected garbage will remain the same, she said, but the frequency of collection will change. Residents will be able to put out two garbage bags or containers every other week and buy additional garbage tags.

Switching to biweekly garbage collection would encourage Niagara residents to use their green bins properly and the region needs a policy change to hit its target goal of diverting 65 per cent of waste from landfills, Habermebl said.

In 2018, the diversion rate was 56 per cent.

Disero said she’s always been in favour of biweekly collection and acknowledged it will take some time for residents to adjust to the change.

There will be a few growing pains, she said.

“Every time a truck goes by your house, it costs money, it pollutes. There are a bunch of reasons, not just financial. Although, we’ll see over the course of many years, that the savings will become more and more significant.”

“Her only concern with the new collection is the disposal of diapers, she said, adding she hopes the regional staff “will be able to come up with something to deal with diapers.”

Niagara Region only accepts diapers in garbage containers while in Toronto residents can put diapers in their green bin.

When planning its green bin program in 2002, the City of Toronto considered the “yuck factor” associated with organics, said Nadine Kerr, the city’s manager of resource recovery and solid waste management services.

Toronto uses two organics processing facilities, Disco Road and Dufferin.

“The technology used at the Disco Organics Processing Facility shreds the diapers, separating non-organic from organic materials,” Kerr said in an email response to The Lake Report. “It is the non-organic fraction of the diapers that are skimmed off and sent to landfill.”

Getting new technology is expensive and the region doesn’t produce enough waste to support it, Habermebl told regional councillors.

“To go and set up new technology in Niagara would be costly and I don’t believe we have the tonnage, just within Niagara, to support technology or the new system. And depending on technology, we may need to import waste into Niagara” to make it economically feasible, she said.

Zalepa said Toronto has the capacity to accept and process diapers through its green bin program but the capital investment is “a stumbling block.”

“It might be a step. From a local point of view, if there’s an ability to take a look at integrating something like that, I think it’s something we should look at,” Zalepa said in a phone interview.

Two contractors will be hired for two collection areas across the region. The first one will include Grimsby, Lincoln, Pelham, Thorold, Wainfleet and West Lincoln.

The second collection area will include Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, St. Catharines and Welland.

Contract costs could rise due to wages and more households as well as fuel, vehicle and technology costs, acting manager of waste collection and diversion Sherri Tait told the region’s special council meeting Thursday.

Financial issues were discussed in-camera as the region is in the process of negotiating a new waste management contract, according to a staff report.

The report noted some of the benefits of a biweekly collection include extended landfill capacity, cost reduction and increased waste diversion.

Regional councillors Pat Chiocchio, Bob Gale, Brian Heit, Tom Insinna, Peter Nicholson, Tim Whalen, Jim Diodati and Leanna Villella voted against the biweekly collection proposal.