Champion Editorial Comments on 3 Bag Limit

Unloading baggage

We fully support Halton Region’s plan to reduce the bi-weekly number of garbage bags residents will be able to place curbside before a user-pay system kicks in.

Next spring (April 1, 2013), residents will be provided with complimentary bag tags to affix to any garbage bags beyond their three-bag limit (currently residents enjoy a six-bag limit) they place at the curb on their regularly-scheduled waste collection day.

Five months later, on September 9, 2013, after having had ample opportunity to monitor and adjust their waste habits, residents will be asked to pay $2 for each tag they affix to garbage bags beyond the three-bag minimum.

There will be some exemptions granted, to those living in townhouses with common collection pile areas, those with diaper/medical condition-related waste as well as a two-week exemption for everyone immediately following the December holiday period.

While some municipalities have similar limits to free waste collection — Durham’s bi-weekly limit is three bags and Peel’s weekly limit is two bags — other municipalities — like Wellington (Guelph) — charge residents for every bag collected on garbage day.

We believe the Region’s tag concept is an incentive for Halton residents to be less wasteful and more thoughtful when deciding what should and shouldn’t get thrown out. The goal is to reduce the amount of Halton waste ending up in the landfill and, by doing so, extending the number of years before the landfill will be full. Regional staff say a three-bag limit could extend the landfill by as much as four years, creating an overall savings of $15 million.

Halton has been a leader in waste diversion among GTA municipalities with a rate of 57 per cent. That success is due, in part, to 85 per cent of homes already placing three garbage bags or less to the curb.

Only five per cent of Halton homes don’t participate in the Blue Box program each week, while 70 per cent of residents have been regular users of GreenCart since its Halton launch in mid-2008.

In order to help Halton homeowners reduce their waste, the Region is also planning to expand its Blue Box program to include mixed plastics like clear clamshells and yogurt and pudding cups, empty steel paint cans and cardboard spiral cans, which are commonly used for products such as refrigerated dough, frozen juices, chips, nuts and other snacks, powdered drink mixes and baby formula, shortening and powdered cleansers.

With this boost to the Blue Box program will come a larger 22-gallon container to hold the additional recyclable items.

Hopefully these initiatives will convince more of us to divert our waste and maintain Halton’s place among the greenest communities in the GTA.

Region of Halton Approves 3 Bag Limit

Recently the Region of Halton made a presentation to the Planning & Public Works committee outlining possible changes to the bag limit for Halton residents.  Currently the limit is 6 bags per pick up (biweekly) along with weekly Blue Box and Green Cart pick ups.  According to the staff report roughly 85% of Halton residents put out 3 or less bags of garbage per pickup which has helped extend the life of the Halton landfill.

There has been a very in depth discussion regarding this proposal on the Hawthorne Villager.  See that thread here.

At the Halton Region Council meeting earlier this month, they approved these new measures.

Here is a link to the video of the meeting which will include the staff presentation as well as potential costs of another landfill site, exemptions for the 3 bag limit as well as costs of the program.  This will end up costing roughly $650K per year to implement this program, bag tags, education but, according to staff reports, save millions of dollars in future costs of transportation of waste and costs for a new landfill.

http://www.halton.ca/cms/One.aspx?portalId=8310&pageId=85279

If you skip forward to the 20 minute mark, you will see the beginning of the staff presentation.  Comments made by a Milton regional councillor during the recorded vote stage begin at the 55 minute mark of the video.

Following the decision, here is an article from Juila Le from the Milton Canadian Champion

Region imposes garbage bag limit to boost waste diversion

Halton regional council unanimously passed a motion to have the bi-weekly garbage bag limit decrease from six bags to three for curbside garbage collection Wednesday.

Residents will see the new restrictions and the introduction of a bag tags program come into effect April 1, 2013.

Waste management staff presented two related reports to council outlining their recommendations, which were previously supported by Halton Region’s planning and public works committee.

Any bag above the three-bag limit will require a bag tag, which will be complimentary to residents for five months while the Region rolls out its promotion and education component of the program. Bag tags will likely be distributed at the Halton Region Administration Centre, the Halton Waste Management Site, waste management truckload events, municipal community centres, public libraries and online through the Region’s website. After the phase-in period, households will be required to purchase the bag tags for each garbage bag that exceeds the three-bag limit on their scheduled collection day. Starting September 9, 2013, tags will cost $2. For those living in a townhouse with common pile collection areas, a limit of three bags per unit will also apply, however townhouse residents won’t be able to use the bag tags.

Other exemptions include complimentary diaper/medical condition tags provided to approved applicants and a grace period of two weeks following the December holiday. Reiterating his point made at a similar presentation to planning and public works committee members late last month,  Rob Rivers, Halton’s director of waste management, said the new garbage bag limit and bag tag program is one of the key components in meeting the Region’s goal of diverting 65 per cent of waste from its landfills by 2016.

He said implementing the recommendations would also add an additional four years to the Region’s landfill, expanding its life to 2044.

Council also heard from Rivers that the overall cost savings by extending the life of the landfill from 2040 to 2044 would be about $15 million. He mentioned replacing the landfill in 2040 is estimated to be more than $750 million.

In backing staff recommendations, Rivers said 85 per cent of homes already place three bags or less of garbage out for collection every other week.  He added that while 95 per cent of residents place a Blue Box out for collection every week and 70 per cent of residents place a GreenCart out for collection every week, the average garbage bag still contains 13 per cent of Blue Box material and 29 per cent of GreenCart material.

Rivers said he believes more education and the expansion of the Blue Box program — to include mixed plastics like clear clamshells, yogurt and pudding cups, empty steel paint cans and cardboard spiral cans — will help decrease the amount of Blue Box and GreenCart materials being put in garbage bags. The new 22-gallon Blue Box will accommodate additional volume as well.

Before the motion was put to a vote, Burlington Councillor Marianne Meed Ward asked if illegal dumping would increase. Rivers replied that other municipalities that have gone through similar changes have seen a small spike in illegal dumping, but over time, “that delinquent behaviour” starts to peter out.

Waste management staff will report back to council about details of the three garbage bag limit and the bag tags program implementation and communications plan later this fall.