Over the last few weeks, I have received hundreds of emails and phone calls with respect to the proposed curbside waste diversion policy recommendation of a Partial Pay As You Throw option, which is the recommended option proposed by staff after they undertook studies and public consultation. Many of the comments that I have received are with respect to the need to look at other technologies, such as incineration or look at purchasing another landfill site as the Partial Pay as you throw is only designed to extend the Trail Road landfill another two years.
It is important to note that these elements are already being looked at as part of the broader Solid Waste Master Plan and these will be brought to committee in October 2023. A curbside waste diversion policy is still needed as part of the Solid Waste Master Plan, and if a technology such as incineration were to ever be adopted, it is provincially regulated, and we would need to, as a City, demonstrate our efforts with respect to waste diversion and meeting our provincial targets.
Questions have been asked regarding how will this affect locations with communal garbage collection sites? To answer this:
Communal garbage collection sites are multi-residential properties that receive curbside garbage collection, such as high-rise apartment buildings who, traditionally, don’t participate in regular curbside pickup. To simply answer this question, this policy does not apply to multi residential units. This policy is solely for individuals who have curbside pickup.
To further diversion impacts for these buildings, the City of Ottawa is developing a Multi-Residential Waste Diversion Strategy as a component project of the broader Solid Waste Master Plan. The Strategy will provide recommendations on how to increase waste diversion in the multi-residential sector by reviewing, enhancing, and developing pilots, policies and initiatives designed to increase participation and engagement in programs offered by the City.
The project is recommending five pillars to support increasing waste diversion at multi-residential properties. Each pillar will include project recommendations to support the pillars:
- Expanding organics diversion to all multi-residential properties
- Enhancing promotion and education (P&E)
- Exploring pilots
- Dedicating and redesigning space for waste disposal programs
- Driving change moving forward through the collection contract
I have also received comments that the proposed policy will penalize users of diapers and incontinence products. The City already offers a Special Consideration waste program allowing residents requiring collection of diapers and incontinence products to place one bag of diapers and incontinence products out for collection on the alternating week from garbage collection. As part of staff’s recommendation, they are proposing expanding the program to also include non-hazardous medical waste.
Similarly, I’ve had comments that this will harm low-income users who may have larger families and not be able to afford tags. Options for low-income users are being developed.
In principle, I support the Partial Pay As You throw initiative, as City-wide, 74% of users are already in compliance with the two bag limit, and this percentage is higher in more urban neighbourhoods such as Alta Vista. However, I have concerns about increasing the burden to that many users to change their current behaviour by requiring them to tag bags which results in more effort and more paper. Similarly, I have concerns with respect to the fact that we currently do not have sufficient diversion programs in place presently for items such as furniture and textiles.
Therefore, I will be proposing motions highlighting:
- The creation of a Council Sponsors Group with representatives from Council to support staff by providing input and feedback on the ongoing development of the Solid Waste Master Plan coming before Committee in September. This group will work with staff to look at further opportunities to develop diversion program to assist residents in diverting their waste from the curb.
- A transitional allotment of tags, with no expiry date, which would provide residents with flexibility at the outset of the program’s implementation in July 2024, allowing them to better manage the transition. This would mean that households would be provided with 15 tags, at no cost and with no expiry date, as a one-time allocation to assist with the transition to the new Partial Pay As You Throw program.