Council deliberated about a recent black cart survey for over an hour at the Nov. 6 council meeting before directing staff to return in 2024 with information regarding automated garbage collection, variable garbage sizes, variable rate structure reflective of garbage cart sizes, bi-weekly or weekly collection, collection schedules, and a medical exemption program.
Garbage bags are currently manually picked up in Airdrie, but a 2023 survey showed that 71 per cent of participants were interested in an automated collection service using black carts.
The automated black cart program suggested by administration on Nov. 6 included three cart sizes with different rates and biweekly collection services instead of weekly service.
Administration explained that a variable cart size and rate program is a collection strategy where each household pays for services based on the volume of garbage set out for collection.
“It is one of the most effective policies for maximizing diversion as it creates a financial incentive to change waste disposal behaviour by encouraging residents to properly sort materials,” said Leanne Moreira, program coordinator for waste and recycling services.
Each household could exchange their cart size once for free to ensure homes have the right size, said Susan Grimm, team leader of waste and recycling services.
Several council members voiced their concern that the various cart sizes would create more work for the City, and potentially create a backlog of carts if households start exchanging their carts, while other councilors saw the benefit of various sizes to meet different household needs.
Grimm stated the current system is not advancing waste diversion in the City.
Council unanimously agreed that residents should be allowed to use black bags, even if transparent bags would help waste diversion.
In the survey, those who were overall disinterested in the automated black cart program saw cost savings for a smaller cart as the biggest benefit of a black cart program.
In an April 2023 report to council, staff estimated that an automated collection program has an anticipated yearly increase between $12 and $16 per household.
Cost assumptions included a 20 to 30 per cent increase in waste to landfill, 15 per cent decrease for collection service, ongoing cart maintenance, reduced revenue from excess waste tag sales, repayment to the waste management reserve, and anticipated inflation.