City takes ‘green’ step with cutting garbage allowance

Red Deer City council made a step in the right direction earlier this week as they voted in favour of a policy change that will see the residential waste collection program unit limit reduced from five units to three.

The change is in alignment with the Waste Management Master Plan (WMMP). With council’s decision to reduce the weekly unit limit for residential waste collection it is in turn making progress in reducing Red Deer’s per capita disposal rate to its target of 500 kg per capita per year.

Yes, for some residents this will require a change in behaviour. Some Red Deerians are used to throwing everything in the garbage, whether it can be recycled or not. Paying more attention to recyclables will not only be better for the environment as a whole, but it will be beneficial for the City as well.

But for most, this change won’t be hard as survey data of resident behaviour has shown that the average number of waste units set out by households in Red Deer is 1.8 units per week with 6% of residents consistently setting out four or more units on a weekly basis. A unit of waste is defined as a bag or can with a 100 litre capacity. The City uses the term unit as bags and cans come in various shapes and sizes. A unit of garbage is used to ensure consistency in determining how much waste can be set out.

Recent surveys also show that 77% of residents indicated they would support the limit reduction following the recent recycling expansion to include all numbered plastics in the blue box program. This is good news as the new three unit limit is set to begin mid-May.

Previously, the residential waste collection program allowed residents to place up to five units of waste for weekly collection as well as unlimited recycling and yard waste collection.

Residents will continue to have the option of purchasing extra waste tags for $1 per tag, which can be affixed to a garbage bag. Extra units of waste set out without the extra waste tags will simply be left behind and can be set out the following week, or taken to the Waste Management Facility.

Part of the proposed policy change includes extra waste tags being available for purchase at City facilities for $1. It is proposed that households would receive a select number of waste tags to help transition to the new waste collection limit.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, as we suspect alleyways will be more littered with trash bags of people who rebel against the new bylaw.

There are several ways that residents can start to scale back their waste output including increased recycling, especially now that all numbered plastics are acceptable in the blue box.

Bulky plastic containers and bottles should now be placed in the blue box, reducing waste output. Additionally, organic waste including food scraps accounts for about 40% of a typical household’s garbage. Reducing food waste, taking part in the yard waste collection program and backyard composting will significantly cut down on organic waste.

Residents can also set out an unlimited amount of recyclables and yard waste each week. However, each yard waste bag or can must weigh less than 25 kg (55 lbs.)

Meanwhile, council also heard the blue (recyclables) and black (garbage) cart pilot is scheduled to start in Red Deer next month and will see collection frequency reduced to bi-weekly.

A full scale bi-weekly blue and black cart program is scheduled for 2018 following the green cart (organic waste) roll out in 2017. This is also good news and leadership shown by our City council. We applaud them for these initiatives.