City clarifies recycling requirements at info session
Thursday, Feb 16, 2017 05:28 pm
Is it garbage or can it be recycled? A number of residents came armed Feb. 11 with examples of materials they weren’t sure about to the City of Airdrie’s first information session intended to provide more details about curbside recycling, set to roll out in April.
“If (plastic film is) stretchy, then it’s recyclable; if it’s crinkly like a chip bag, it’s garbage,” said Tracy Pagenhardt, education co-ordinator with Waste and Recycling Services.
Paper, cardboard, household glass, plastics – numbers one through seven – and tin will also be accepted. Coffee cups will be placed in the blue cart rather than the organics green cart.
Blue carts will be delivered to approximately 17,000 single-family residences in Airdrie in March and collection will begin in April. In the fall, residents will have an opportunity to switch out the 240 litre carts – either the green cart, blue cart or both – for a smaller, 80 litre cart at no cost, depending on their individual needs. Multi-family residences will also be required to have blue bin or blue cart services and green cart services by January 2018.
According to Kathleen Muretti, manager of Waste and Recyling, the decision by the city to adopt curbside recycling was not made without considerable thought and research. One of the more controversial aspects of the program is the requirement that residents use clear bags for their garbage.
“Research shows that this does work. This isn’t something we came up with out of the blue,” she said. “There’s a number of communities that have had a program like this in place. So, we have done the research to see if this is a workable program for Airdrie.”
Muretti cited examples in Nova Scotia where clear bags were introduced and the amount of recyclable materials being put in regular garbage declined by 24 to 30 per cent.
Residents can include one opaque grocery store-sized privacy bag inside the clear bag, and the clear bag can be placed in a garbage can if privacy is a concern. Garbage collectors will leave any bags with excessive amounts of recyclables or any black bags at the curb with a tag, alerting the homeowner to the issue. Clear bags will not be mandatory until January 2018.
“There is no such thing as garbage police,” Pagenhardt said. “We will not have anybody snooping through your waste. We will not have anyone opening your bags.”
Pagenhardt said she was meeting with retailers in Airdrie to ensure they knew the program was coming and could stock clear bags in a number of sizes. Walmart already stocks the large clear bags, which sell for the same price as the black bags.
Muretti said the city had a number of reasons for introducing curbside recycling, one of them being pure economics.
“Currently, all waste at the City of Airdrie is taken to City of Calgary landfills. City of Calgary has a designated materials list. This list contains things like asphalt, shingles, bricks – easily divertible items. They have since added paper and cardboard,” she said.
Failure to divert these materials will result in higher tipping fees being charged to the City of Airdrie. Regular garbage is charged at $115 per metric tonne, whereas garbage containing any item on the designated materials list will be charged a tipping fee of $170 per metric tonne. According to Muretti, the City of Calgary is planning to ban paper and cardboard entirely from their landfills.
“When that goes through – in 2018, 2019 – there will be a super-charge of potentially 195 per cent for disposal,” she said. “With clear bags, we can ensure we’re not having cardboard, paper and organics going to the City of Calgary landfill and being charged these extra rates.”
Residents will have their regular garbage and green carts collected on their already established collection day; blue carts will be collected on the following business day. For instance, a resident with a regular garbage day of Tuesday will have blue cart collection on Wednesday. According to Pagenhardt, this is to avoid having both carts out on the road for pickup at the same time.
Pagenhardt said there is no need for residents to sort their recycling.
“You want to put all your recycling in the cart, loose. The only exception is shredded paper, which must be in a clear bag,” she said. “Plastic films must be bundled together. Plastic films are bread bags, ziplock bags, bubble wrap – these just need to be bundled together.
“You need to remove all caps and lids from your bottles and cans and rinse containers. The key word is rinse. We’re not requesting people scrub out their peanut butter jars or put them through their dishwashers. As long as there’s no chunks in there, you’re good.”
The city is holding additional information sessions March 8 and March 25. More information is available on the city’s website, airdrie.ca.