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Biweekly trash, recycling collection won't save money, city officials say

Idea was suggested during citizen input for the 2018 municipal budget
If we switch to twice-a-month collection, the city might need to reconsider whether the current two-bag-a-week limit should be replaced by a two-bag biweekly limit

The city's bureaucromancy doesn't see much merit in a couple of money-saving suggestions made by citizens for the 2018 municipal budget.

One idea, reducing trash and recycling collections to every other week, wouldn't result in any immediate cost savings, says Susan Hamilton Beach, director of public works.

In fact, Beach believes twice-a-month collections could well cost us more and even adversely affect future landfill expansion approvals.

At tonight's meeting of City Council, Beach will also recommend against a second citizen suggestion: cutting garbage pickup on statutory holidays.

"From a cost perspective, there are no immediate savings that can be estimated with opting for a biweekly waste and recycling collection," Beach says in a written report to council.

She sees the following drawbacks:

  • space is a concern for single family, multi-family residential and downtown business properties
  • if a resident is on vacation on collection day, waste may not be collected for one month
  • rats, vermin, seagulls may be an increased issue
  • bags may be heavier, with manual collection – potential for greater number of worker injuries
  • recycling contract is set up on a per tonne fee basis – Stewardship Ontario (provincial funding) bases their funding on greater volumes and there is potential to have reduced funding if bi-weekly recycling program is implemented
  • excess waste – not able to be managed bi-weekly – may end up in the recycling carts. The city would then be paying recycling rates for waste
  • processing plant and collection vehicle issues are possible with greater daily volumes being collected.

"It is expected that with the current waste collection vehicles, and the same volume of waste being generated at each household, staff will be at each stop for a longer period of time and the equipment will be handling twice as much waste each week," Beach says.

In that case, the city might need to reconsider whether its current two-bag-a-week limit should be replaced by a two-bag biweekly limit.

Bi-weekly collection of recyclables reduces volume collected

"Recycling collection would also not result in any savings to the municipality," Beach says.

"Our city's recycling contract is based on a per-tonne rate. The province mandates diversion for a municipality of our size and our funding level is based on the volume of recyclables collected and the implementation of best practices which includes weekly collection of recyclables."

"We also receive a 50/50 share of revenue from the sale of recyclable materials at market from our contractor. Studies have shown that bi-weekly collection of recyclables reduces the volume collected which is contrary to the direction of our province and may have implications to the city when seeking future approvals for our landfill expansion."

Organics, automated collection

"Municipalities that have implemented biweekly service are generally also providing an organics collection service. If the organics or food scraps were eliminated from the garbage, many of the challenges presented could be addressed. An estimate has been prepared to provide an organics program to the City of Sault Ste. Marie and it has been proven to be too costly to implement."

However, the Ontario government is currently developing a plan for organic waste and city officials expect they may be forced to introduce a program to collect and process organics within five years.

Beach says that early next year, she will ask council to issue a request proposals for automated collection and cart service for those buildings currently serviced by curbside collection.

Statutory holidays

"It is expected that this change in service provision will allow for schedule modifications) ie. potential four-day schedule involving 10-hour shifts. If this is approved, weeks involving one statutory holiday will no longer be an issue, as the remaining four days will be utilized. Savings are therefore anticipated with this potential change, although capital investment (ie. carts and collection trucks with arms) will be required to implement this service."

"Although there will be anticipated savings related to overtime if a four-day week is implemented, the proposal call will result in anticipated increase in overall contract collection costs as well as require modifications or new purchases of city equipment in order to provide automated collection."

The two suggestions are on the agenda for tonight's meeting of City Council.

The meeting will be livestreamed on SooToday starting at 4:30 p.m.