North Grenville council is moving forward with a new waste management program for the municipality, set to be rolled out on February 1, 2021. On September 1, council passed a resolution to award the municipality’s waste management contract to Emterra Environmental, which included bi-weekly waste pickup, and the addition of weekly organics collection, a curbside bulky item program, and a leaf and yard waste program.
At the council meeting on October 20, staff brought a report back to council recommending a funding model for the new program. In order to keep the portion of the municipal taxes used to support the waste management program the same as in 2019, staff recommended a $1 bag tag increase, bringing the cost of one bag tag to $2.75. According to the staff report, this increase also takes into consideration the possibility of lost revenue from reduced bag tag sales due to the implementation of the organics program. The municipality has set a recovery goal of 30% for organics in the first year, increasing to 60% in the next four years. “This goal can be revised as data trends are established,” North Grenville’s Engineering Technologist Brandon Shipman told council.
The report also recommended the addition of two more types of bag tag: one for bulky items at $12.50 per tag, and one for leaf and yard waste at $1 per tag. Small items, such as a kitchen chair or stroller, would require one bulky item tag, while larger items, like a desk or couch, would require two. Each bag of yard waste will require one tag, which Brandon says will, hopefully, encourage residents to continue to take large quantities of leaf and yard waste to the Oxford Mills waste transfer station. According to the contract, bulky items and leaf and yard waste will be collected up to four times a year, with two dates in the Spring and Fall.
Staff recommended that the municipality sign on to a five-year contract with Cascades to process their recycling, as their bid made the most sense economically for the municipality. Organics will be processed along with the City of Ottawa’s organic waste by Convertus. The contract will be with the City of Ottawa, which will give North Grenville the lowest possible processing rate, as well as access to the City’s expertise for rolling out a green bin program. “From utilizing some of their tips and tricks, their FAQs, all those things to assist our residents to make sure they get the best use of the green bin program,” Director of Public Works, Karen Dunlop said.
Since council made the decision to shake up the waste management program in the municipality, some residents have expressed concern about the increased cost of bag tags and the efficacy of the program as a whole. Some rural residents feel that they should not be paying for the bag tag increase, as they already process their organics themselves, through composting or feeding it to livestock. Others are worried about the animals that the separated organics might attract to their property.
Mayor Peckford highlighted at the meeting that the organics program is not just a backyard composting program, as the number of items that can be put in the green bin is quite extensive. Brandon confirmed this, adding that the list includes: meat, fish, scraps and bones, dairy products, bread and cereals, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, eggshells, food leftovers, pumpkins, fallen fruit, paper towels, tissues, soiled pizza boxes, sugar and potato paper bags, cold fireplace ash, kitty litter, dog waste, wood chips and sawdust.
“If the pizza box is clean, you can recycle it, and if it’s covered in grease and cheese, they can be put in the green bin,” Brandon gave as an example. “So now, no matter which program it goes in, it’s being diverted out of the landfill, and I think that’s a big win for the municipality, to get our diversion numbers up.”
Although the new contact with Emterra begins on November 1, the new waste management program will not be implemented until February 1, 2021, to give the municipality enough time to deliver green bins and educate the public about the organics program. “We anticipate that, sometime in January, we will go door to door, so all residents know exactly what they are to do with the green bin, and the schedule for collections,” said Director Dunlop.
Weekly pick up with the current bag tags will remain in place until February, when there will be a 30-day grace period for residents to use up their old tags, or exchange them for new ones at the municipal office by paying the difference between the two.
The changes in the waste management program is the result of a 2019 community consultation process, which revealed that the majority of the residents of North Grenville were looking for a more progressive waste management program. Mayor Peckford noted that change is on the horizon provincially, when it comes to organic waste, and as North Grenville’s contract was up for renewal, it was prudent that they be forward thinking in terms of the future of waste management in the municipality. “I think it’s important to say one of the imperatives for changes to our waste management program, in terms of composting, is the province’s very clear indication that they are going to ban organics from landfills in the foreseeable future,” Mayor Peckford said. “Given this reality, the chances of this municipality having to adapt to a ban of organics in the landfill is very very high, so we do it now, or we do it down the road.”