You may have recently seen that Ottawa is studying options for changing how we as a City handle our garbage. The City is in the process of preparing a new Solid Waste Master Plan and the first major feature is looking at curbside garbage collection.
Over the past several years, Ottawa has been studying our garbage trends. This is incredibly timely, as the City’s Trail Road landfill is filling up fast – expected to be at capacity, and end-of-life, as early as 2036 if current trends continue. During this study, it was found that more than half of what we throw in the garbage should have been recycled or composted, and that only 58% of households were using a Green Bin.
The Province has mandated a target of 70% reduction and recovery of household food and organic waste by 2023. In addition, a complete ban of all organic waste from landfills is planned for 2030. Right now, only 44% of residential food and organic waste is being diverted in Ottawa.
Additionally, the Province is making changes that will lead to higher diversion targets for recyclables, as well as an expansion of items that can be placed in the blue and black bins. Right now, around 25% of recyclables are being placed in the garbage in Ottawa.
We know we need to do better on how we collect and deal with garbage, as we work to divert more waste from the landfill, reduce emissions, and turn waste into new products.
Having studied the various programs implemented in other cities around Ontario and Canada, City Staff are preparing a report for Council that will present the below scenarios for changes to curbside pick-up, and they are actively looking for feedback from residents, before presenting the preferred option.
- Partial pay-as-you throw: Households would be allowed to place a set number of garbage items out for collection. Households with more than this limit would purchase garbage tags for each additional item. Recycling, organics, and leaf and yard waste would still be picked up without any tags and with no limits.
- More than 78 municipalities across Ontario currently use this option, including Kingston, Niagara Region, Peel Region, and areas around Ottawa including Russell, Carleton Place, and Perth.
- Reduced item limits: Households would set out a reduced number of garbage items for collection. Anything above the limit would not be collected.
- Similarly, nearly 80 municipalities across Ontario have a garbage limit in place, including Halton Region, Hamilton, Guelph and London.
- Clear garbage bags with recycling and organics bans: Households would set out their garbage in clear bags. Recyclables and organic waste would not be permitted in the garbage.
- More than 40 municipalities across Ontario, including Markham and Dufferin County currently use this approach.
Curbside garbage collection is the first major operation being studied and will only focus on properties serviced under the curbside collection contract. About 297,000 properties are serviced under this collection contract, accounting for 82% of the waste collected by the City.
Curbside set-out studies found that the majority of households in Ottawa are setting out four items of garbage or less every two weeks:
– 85% of households are setting out four items or less
– 81% of households are setting out three items or less
– 71% of households are setting out two items or less
Curbside waste audit studies show that despite the fact that many households are setting out four items or less of garbage, 58% of material in the garbage could still be diverted through recycling and green bin programs. Whatever the recommended option, it is not meant to be punitive, but rather to focus on effective ways to increase our waste diversion rates.
There will be more coming out of the Solid Waste Master Plan that looks specifically at solutions for improving the waste diversion rates with multi-residential housing, commercial collection, institutional collection, and our parks. Additionally, Staff are looking at developing a fulsome promotion and education plan on the need for garbage diversion. Either due to Provincial requirements, or the capacity limits of our existing landfill.
I highly encourage you to visit ottawa.ca/wasteplan and share your thoughts by completing the survey. Additionally, the City is running various workshops that delve into the specifics of the options, and Solid Waste Master Plan https://engage.ottawa.ca/solid-waste-master-plan/news_feed/sign-up-for-a-workshop-on-curbside-garbage-collection-options.
I want to also hear your thoughts. This is a substantial shift in how we handle garbage in our community. To ensure that your feedback is included in the report, if you do not wish to do the survey, please feel free to email me directly and share your thoughts, suggestions, or concerns with any of the options, or if you have any other comments on garbage collection Laura.Dudas@Ottawa.ca.
This process is still in the early stages, and the first major feedback consultation on the options. There are still the details to be worked out regarding the specifics, for example: what would the limit be before tags are required? With that in mind, no matter your feelings on these suggestions, it is important that our voice is heard before any decisions are made.