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Pilot project coming to combat Blue Box litter

A staff report on the pilot project suggests that lids for Blue Box bins have not worked in the past as they can come off and become part of the litter problem, while also somewhat creating safety hazards for collectors. (Oshawa Express file photo).

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

In the days after an early-May wind storm battered Oshawa and most of southern Ontario, the fallout could be seen through an overwhelming amount of displaced items from blue boxes scattered across sidewalks, city streets and the lawns of homes and other buildings.

In some ways regional council may have possessed psychic powers, as about a month previous, it had requested staff to investigate solutions to keeping materials within a Blue Box containers on windy days to reduce the likelihood of spillage and litter.

At the June 6 committee of the whole meeting, staff returned with a recommendation to initiate a pilot project that combines education and making additional Blue Box bins available to the public on an as-needed basis.

In order to expand current education and promote a Blue Box-related litter reduction campaign, funding will be proposed in the 2019 waste management budget at a cost of $20,000.

It is estimated providing additional bins would represent a cost of approximately five dollars per Blue Box, with the costs shared by manufacturers of the packaging.

A staff report on the pilot project suggests that lids for Blue Box bins have not worked in the past as they can come off and become part of the litter problem, while also somewhat creating safety hazards for collectors.

Mesh covers are also not considered a viable solution.

“Mesh covers have also not worked because they encourage residents to overfill their blue boxes so only one Blue Box needs to be taken to the curb when the recycling volume actually requires two,” the report reads. “This leads to increased litter when the recycling collector pulls back the mesh cover and the compacted recycling bounces out of the Blue Box onto the ground.”

Over the past year, the Province of Ontario announced plans to transition responsibility of Blue Box collection from municipalities to packaging manufacturers.

It is unclear at this point whether this plan will continue under the newly-elected PC government.

For this reason, staff recommends the region should not make any “significant investments” in the Blue Box program at this point.