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Garbage and Green Bins in Ottawa

in Green, Ottawa, Property Taxes

The City of Ottawa during it’s latest budget deliberations came up with yet another way to stop the rate increase from being astronomical to only being big, by proposing that Garbage Collection for the city (which is currently done weekly), be moved to a bi-weekly pick up, thus saving money only having to pick up every other week (I believe they also considered twice a month garbage pick up, but decided against that). Currently Ottawa has a Green Bin program for kitchen waste and such as well as a recycle bin program for paper, metals plastics etc.,.

The Green Bin program “success” seems to be behind the reasoning to move forward with curtailing garbage pick up. Evidently it is much cheaper to pick up Green bins than it is to pick up the garbage (not sure of the numbers, I am sure someone can quote this for me), so thus if we move the green bin pick up to being weekly and cut the garbage pick up we will save everyone $28 a year on their Property Taxes (at least I think that is what the estimates were).

Colour me very skeptical on these alleged savings (the numbers don’t add up in my head), but let us assume that this is not a big shell game switcheroo and we will end up paying the same at the end of it all.

The first folks to voice concern were parents with infants and lots of disposable diapers, you can’t expect that waste to wait two weeks in 90 degree heat over the summer do you? Evidently the City is thinking of doing something about this, although it is not clear what (no soiled disposable diapers will not go in the green bins), there might be a special pick up or drop off program.

Let’s wander through some of the other interesting consequences of this decision (needless to say I will be hitting the downside, feel free to comment about all the good things, if you wish):

  • Will there will be lots of more in the Green Bins can for the new pick up system deal with? Will there be much heavier bins
    RESP, RDSP, RRSP

    A Green Bin

    every week? That remains to be seen, also with all this extra bulk to lift, can the current contractor deal with the extra load? Guess someone has thought of that (I hope). This is where I think the economics will show that in fact it costs about the same.

  • Can the Green Bin system deal with a lot more “illegal” things appearing in the bins? It is human nature to assume folks will be accidentally (or possibly with purpose) putting things that should not be in the Green Bins out with the weekly pick up. This adds more responsibilities on the Bin Pick up crew and at the back end where the waste must be sorted. Sorry folks, this is going to happen whether you like it or not, let’s hope not too much, but more waste, means more mistakes.
  • If the by-law folks enforce the rules well enough and make sure no contraband trash appears in the Green Bin, will we see “arbitrary dumping” of trash into ditches? Maybe. Will folks start bringing trash to work and have them deal with it? Maybe. Will folks be dumping garbage at commercial sites (e.g. restaurant garbage bins, mall bins, etc.,)? Maybe. Especially if they start limiting the amount of garbage you can put out, this will happen.

Will this change really save money? I think it will make folks much more cognizant of the Green Bin program and it will get a lot more of the Kitchen scraps that may be going to the landfill because folks are too lazy to use their Green bins, but will it really save money for the City of Ottawa?  As I said, I am very skeptical, I really don’t see where the “savings” will come from.

What is happening in other Canadian Cities? Please comment and tell us your Trashy story.

{ 5 comments }

  • Anne April 6, 2011, 9:08 PM

    Forgot to mention the bin police that come to check our bins and stuff curbside, it was the 1st month we were living here and I got a big check as opposed to the orange reject sticker…does that make me a pro now??

    Reply
  • Anne April 6, 2011, 9:05 PM

    We’re using Green bins here in NS and we also did in PEI for the 13 yrs we were there…not sure how much money we saved but it was less smell than garbage bags. Our stuff goes out every 2 weeks and we only have a large clear bag of trash plus 2 clear bags (not small either) of kitty litter (2 cats)plus numerous blue bags. Takes abit of time to adjust to but the stuff that is kept out of the landfill is amazing. Positive thinking lol

    Reply
  • Sustainable PF April 5, 2011, 7:34 AM

    Interesting take and obviously one that would catch my eye. We don’t have the green bin program here in Peterborough though there certainly is a push for it (like we’ll give up our compost pile – premium dirt/soil for free!).

    The implications of delayed waste pick up will not turn out well IMO. Here in the ‘borough they scaled back pick up to 4 days a week which I think is much more realistic than a bi-weekly pick up.

    One thing in our city that I just don’t get is pick up of pet waste. We are allowed to have, by law, 3 cats in a household (which we do). However, our waste can not include more than 25% of cat litter, and, if contained in a single container it must be double bagged. Mrs. SPF and I are expecting, so perhaps we’ll make more waste in the future but between our stringent recycling and our composting habits we produce one grocery bag of non-cat litter waste per week, max. We’re proud of this. Thing is, with 3 cats we produce a 2nd grocery bag of waste. Now, I can’t just toss both bags in garbage can and put it to the curb. I am forced to put them in a black garbage bag to meet the double bag requirement and even then I don’t meet the 25% requirement! I’ve actually had litter bags ripped out of black garbage bags and tossed on the curb. Our solution? Take the cat litter to a city park and put it in the bins there. We’d prefer to not do this b/c it is heavy stuff, inconvenient and that waste is around children. I understand the health risks behind the “reasons” of the rules but the city has truly neglected the needs of smaller familial units who follow other bi-laws on maximum number of pets.

    I digress. Some of these decisions are made with blinders on.

    Reply

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