Meredith Raso tries to be responsible when it comes to putting out her garbage. She wants to do what is right for the environment, and is pretty conscientious about using her grey and blue boxes.
But she has two challenges — a large family, and an aversion to maggots.
With four kids from the ages of nine to 13 living at home, some weeks she puts out a second garbage bag for collection. And although she has a lot of organic waste from feeding a large family — when she peels potatoes it’s usually half of a 10-pound bag — she doesn’t always use her green bin. “I’m hit and miss with that, especially in the summer,” she said. “I really have a problem with maggots.”
In a perfect world, rather than seeing garbage collection reduced to every other week, she’d prefer it more often.
But if the Region decides to pick up residential garbage every second week, as it is considering, and continues weekly recycling and organic waste pickup, she would adapt.
“I’ll do what I need to do. It would be hard, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it. It is better for the environment.”
Reducing her garbage to one bag every other week would be a challenge, and would force her to work harder at recycling, she said, “but I still have that issue with the green bin.”
One concern she has is a possible increase in people tossing their garbage out of trucks on rural roads — she sees a lot of that already. “I’m not sure why people choose to do that. Hopefully it won’t get worse.”
With a new garbage contract looming in 2021, the Region is asking municipalities to consider some curbside collection changes, with a goal of increasing recycling and com- posting, and streamlining costs.
Moving to pickup every other week for residential garbage is one of the options under discussion.
Catherine Habermebl, regional director of waste management, spoke to Town councillors recently to explain those options.
If residential garbage pickup moves to every second week, bag limits would double. Recycling and composting material would continue to be collected weekly, she said.
Container limits for businesses and mixed-use properties would be reduced to four — some areas are now allowed six or seven.
Other suggested alternatives include a four-item limit per collection for large items, each collection. The mandatory use of clear bags was considered but eliminated as an option — there was little support from the public.
“We do know for a fact through our audits that 50 per cent of the garbage bag in Niag-ara consists of organic material,” Habermebl said. “That material can be better managed through our green bin program.”
Other municipalities which have gone to every-other-week collection have successfully increased waste diversion, and increases in savings have ranged from $200,000 in Barrie to $12 mil- lion in Peel Region.
The Region is also considering eliminating the collection of appliances and scrap metal. In the majority of cases, Habermebl said, by the time the contractor gets to the curb, the material has already been grabbed by people who know the garbage schedule and get there first.
In response to a question from Lord Mayor Betty Disero about an increase in cost to the municipality to look after scrap metal and appliance pickup, Habermebl said the Region still has drop-offs at landfill sites. Residents can also find people who will col- lect them at no cost.
In the past when collection changes were made, there was a slight increase in illegal dumping at the beginning, which declined as residents adapted, she said. And the Re- gion has a program to address it if there is an issue. “We don’t believe there will be an increase in illegal dumping as a result of every-other-week collection.”
Following the presentation, Brad Whitelaw, program manager for waste management, explained municipalities are also being asked to review enhanced services to see if they are required at the same level in the new contract. NOTL has three extra garbage pickups a week on Queen Street, with businesses able to put out up to 20 bags, and two cardboard collections with no limit, for which it pays the region an extra $76,000 a year.
“Once a new contract is awarded, if that service is not needed, you don’t realize cost savings,” he said.
Maria Mavridis is quite sure the extra service is needed, and would hate to see it reduced. Her family’s restaurant on Queen Street, Corks Restaurant and Wine Bar, not only puts out garbage as often as allowed with the enhanced service, but sometimes trips to the dump have to be made to get rid of food waste between collections — if it piles up behind the restaurant, it attracts racoons and skunks.
During the summer, she had to ask the NOTL Chamber of Commerce to intervene because garbage was collecting on the street, still piled curbside when tourists began arriving in the morning.
“I don’t know what we would have done if Janice (Thomson, president of the chamber) hadn’t stepped in to help.”
While some businesses in other areas can arrange private collection, using dumpsters to store garbage between pickups, that’s not practical on Queen Street, said Mavridis. “Some of us don’t have room for a garbage can in the back, never mind a dumpster. And it would be impossible for trucks to get back there to pick them up.”
Whitelaw has been handling public consultation and engagement through the region’s website, social media, open houses, community booths and surveys, both online and by telephone. An open house and community booth were held at the NOTL community centre in November, he said.
The responses across the region in favour of and against every-other-week garbage col- lection for residents were fairly evenly split, he said.
Statistics from across the province prove moving to every second week collection increases organic diversion. People don’t want their “smelly garbage” hanging around and will use their green bin rather than putting food waste in a garbage bag, he said, and there are other benefits to diversion, including the creation of a product from compost material.
In addition to “cost avoidance” in the new contract, he added, environmentally, “it’s the right thing to do.”
Allowing two bags every other week isn’t taking away service, it’s rescheduling it to reduce the number of trucks required in the fleet and to cut down on truck maintenance, Whitelaw said, but as residents increase their recycling and use the green bin for organics, they’ll find they won’t need two bags — although Raso said, with those with large families like hers, that would be unlikely.
The four-item limit per residence for large items and the elimination of scrap metal and appliances collection have been largely supported during public discussions and in surveys, Whitelaw said.
The Region is asking municipalities to look at what they want in base collection service and other options and enhancements available to them, with a response by Feb. 20.