By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Garbage collection in the Region of Durham could be looking different, starting in 2018.
Regional staff are set to investigate whether Durham should change to a clear bag policy, meaning that garbage left out would have to be placed in transparent bags, as opposed to the more common black one.
The report, which will be an updated version of a previously released report, came after Councillor Joe Neal of Clarington asked whether making the change would help keep recyclable material out of the garbage and in the blue and green bins where they belong.
Mirka Januszkiewicz, the region’s director of waste management, says that while she will update the report, she does not feel a clear bag policy would be the solution to getting recyclable material out of Durham’s garbage bags.
“A few times a year, I give instructions to leave these bags (with recyclable material). But then I get phone calls, and I have to send the contractor back out to pick them up,” she told councillors at the latest committee of the whole meeting.
“Clear bags, I am happy to revisit it and bring it back to council. However, we will also have to evaluate all the other issues toward diversion.”
In early 2009, the Region of Durham conducted a three-month pilot study into a clear bag policy for its waste for approximately 1,500 homes in Pickering and Clarington. According to a report presented to the works committee in June 2009, the program, if extrapolated region-wide, could increase the diversion rate by three per cent, or the equivalent of 4,700 tonnes of blue box materials and kitchen waste.
However, the report also notes that, due to the downturn in the economy at the time, “most municipalities have observed overall waste generation rates decreasing. Therefore, due to the timing of the clear bags pilot study, the tonnage and diversion rate results from this pilot may not represent typical conditions.”
In its conclusion, the report recommends that a clear bag policy should only be implemented after a “successful plastic film diversion program with a lead time of one to two years required to notify all stakeholders and to accommodate a resident and retailer transition to clear bags prior to the program launch.”
Several municipalities have made the switch to clear garbage bags in an effort to keep recyclable material out of the waste stream, such as Dufferin County and Tweed.
The City of Kawartha Lakes is the latest to switch to a clear bag policy, making the change at the beginning of 2017. As with other municipalities, the change was made with the intent of keeping recyclable materials out of the waste stream. Under the city’s policy, garbage not in clear bags or those that contain more than 20 per cent recyclable material will no longer be collected.
Staff are expected to report back to regional council on the possibility of a clear bag policy in June.