Over the past decade the City of Spruce Grove’s diversion rates have remained between 35% and 40%. In 2016 the City contracted S-Cubed Environmental to conduct a curbside waste audit and provide recommendations on how to increase waste diversion. One of the top recommendations from the report is the proposed change from weekly to bi-weekly garbage collection. The City has also conducted several outreach survey events over the past two years where the main reason (46% of residents) for not diverting waste to the organics cart has been convenience. Residents stating that it is more convenient to put their food scraps in the garbage compared to properly diverting to the green organics cart. Organics currently makes up 56% of the waste stream.
Addressing this stagnation in diversion has become a priority and City Administration is proposing three service level changes to the waste program to address these concerns for Spring 2019.
The three service level changes are:
- Curbside collection service to bi-weekly garbage collection, weekly summer organics collection and bi-weekly winter organics collection.
- Discontinuation of Christmas tree collection program
- Maintain the free-cycle event and discontinue the large-item pickup collection program
Administration has attached a report that provides a detailed analysis of each of the four proposed service level changes, including impacts, consultation and communication considerations.
The following topics discussed during the Committee of the Whole meeting on June 18, 2018 have been addressed as laid out below:
1. Curbside collection service to bi-weekly garbage collection, weekly summer organics collection and bi-weekly winter organics collection:
Council identified concern over the feedback from residents on this proposed change. The waste group will work closely with Corporate Communications to prepare an extensive public engagement and communication strategy with a focus on education to assist residents in adjusting to these changes. The attached FAQ has also been prepared to help answer any of the common concerns and questions related to these changes.
Council expressed interest in offering a larger cart or a second cart option for residents who produce a large amount of waste. Upon further consideration, the waste group feels that the City should only allow residents to have one 240L black garbage cart for the following reasons:
- A larger cart or more than one cart does not encourage diversion from landfill
- Managing three cart sizes will increase both inventory and administrative costs for the utility
- Solid Waste services are based on a single cart for each “Utility Service Account” and collection and disposal costs are tendered and calculated on this assumption. Each Utility Service Account at $28.50/month = 1 x 240 L Black waste cart + 1 x 240 L Organic waste cart + unlimited blue bags at current service cycles
- There can be limited off-street storage options for additional carts for many properties
- Carts identification numbers are not currently associated with a particular address or Utility Service Account, so could be easily stolen from one resident to be used by another
- With no electronic tags on waste carts, there is no feasible means to track who has two carts and to properly bill those residents
- Some regional municipalities have offered the second cart options at an administration fee of $50.00 and a monthly fee of $10 - $12
Council also expressed interest in offering an alternative to blue bags. A study completed by the City of Salmon Arm shows that a blue bag or cart based system have the highest capture rates, lowest contamination and litter rates compared to blue boxes. The blue bags have the benefit of allowing operators to easily spot contamination and reject a bag at the curb compared to a box or cart system. The study also showed that blue bags have less of an environmental impact compared to blue carts. It will take 14 years of using two bags a week to equal the amount of plastic required for one cart. The study also showed that trucks idle 14% longer with cart collection compared to bag collection. The cost of operating a cart system is higher with Salmon Arm estimating that it would cost approximately $40+ more/household/year, not including cart purchase, maintenance or replacement. It is estimated that a resident who uses two bags a week will spend approximately $30 a year on bags.
2. Discontinuation of Christmas tree collection program
Council appeared to fully support this proposed change and as a result no additional research has been conducted.
3. Maintain the free-cycle event and discontinue the large-item pickup collection program
Council identified that it was important to keep the Free-Cycle event as it allowed residents an alternative to landfill disposal for their large items. Council expressed great satisfaction with this aspect of the program. Administration feels that continuing to offer Free-Cycle as a separate event from large item collection is appropriate.
Council requested more information on alternatives to large item collection and the cost of running the curbside program as is. Administration conducted some research within the region and the attached program approach and costs have been identified.
Administration feels that discontinuing the large item collection program for the following reasons is the appropriate approach moving forward:
As a result of discontinuing large item collection, residents will be responsible for disposal of their large items left behind after the Free-Cycle event through the Eco-Centre or a private hauler.
- The program does not encourage diversion
- It duplicates services offered at the Eco-Centre
- Items that are not accepted by the program are often left at the curb for extended periods of time.
- Items frequently interfere with the ability of the automatic trucks to tip the waste and organics carts
- Six separate trucks are required to collect waste put out during large item collection
- Several other third party organizations that accept large items for reuse and resale