When Niagara Region’s new collection contract starts in October, Miller Waste Systems will be picking up garbage in Niagara-on-the-Lake under a new contract that will see a raise in fees per household.
And while collection policies will change under the new contract, Catherine Habermehl of the Niagara Region stressed it is not a reduction in service, it is the same volume of material being collected in a different way.
Since the 2009 contract was signed with Emterra, which was $4 million less than the next lowest bidder, labour, insurance, fuel, vehicle and technology costs have increased, she said.
The main change will be the move to every-other-week pickup of two bags of garbage, while recycling and organics will continue to be collected weekly. Leaf and yard waste will be collected weekly as well, and branches eight weeks per year.
The collection of large appliances and scrap metals is being discontinued, said Habermehl, and the Region will provide the names of private contractors who will pick them up — that change was made because by the time regional trucks would arrive, the material had already been picked up to be sold for scrap.
Large items will still be collected, with a limit of four per pickup, but with as many collections per year as needed.
Diapers was brought up as a concern by Coun. Clare Cameron. Currently, one bag a week for families with young children and people with medical conditions, or licensed home day cares, can be put out at the curb, but two will be allowed after the new contract goes into effect in October, Habermehl said.
Every-other-week pickup is considered the best practice for municipalities, and will result in a change in behaviour, she explained, resulting in increased waste diversion — 50 per cent of what residents put in garbage bags now is organic waste that should have been put in the green bin. Another 14 per cent is recyclable.
Shifting to every-other-week collection will encourage the use of the green bin for smelly garbage, to avoid odours, she said.
It will also extend the lifespan for the two existing Regional landfills — looking for more landfill space is an expensive and lengthy process. The Region just received approval for an expansion at the Humberstone landfill in Welland, at a cost of $1.2 million, through a process that took nine years to complete, Habermehl said.
With more recycling removed from garbage and placed in recycling boxes, revenue from the sale of those materials will increase.
Waste diversion programs also create 10 times more jobs than waste collection, she said.
And while promotion and education is effective in increasing diversion rates, it doesn’t accomplish the same increase as through collection policy changes.
When asked why residents avoid using the green bin for organics, she blamed the yuck factor.
Residents perceive using the green bin as inconvenient and smelly, “and without policy change, we won’t see a behavioural change,” she said.
She also agreed with concerns from some councillors that communication of the message that service is not declining is essential.
Two companies have been chosen for curbside collections: GFL Environmental Inc. of Toronto, and Miller Waste Systems from Markham.
The companies won contracts for curbside collection, haulage of garbage, recycling and organics.
The Region is splitting the new collection contract into two areas: GFL Environmental will be the pick up in Grimsby, Lincoln, Pelham, Thorold, Wainfleet and West Lincoln, and Miller Waste Systems in NOTL and the rest of the regional municipalities.
The 2019 contract with Emterra was $35.3 million, said Gary Zalepa, NOTL’s regional councillor. It will increase to $38.8 million in 2020, $42.5 million in 2021 and $46.7 million in 2022..
The contracts were signed about a year ago, with the increase in the first year of the new contract representing just under $15 a household, he said.
The Region is expecting a “high quality of labour and improved service” with the new contracts, Zalepa said.
Every-other-week garbage collection was recommended to regional council based on support from an online survey; increase in diversion opportunities; reservation of landfill capacity; and environmental benefits.