“The effect of the program is to encourage people to divert whatever they can,” a city official said, noting that the amount of garbage collected has been cut in half.
Since implementing its new clear trash bag program on February 7, the amount of trash collected on city sidewalks has been reduced by nearly 50%.
During the five-week period in February and March – compared to the same five weeks in 2021 – the amount of waste collected by the city fell from 407 to 220 tonnes.
The new program requires residents to put their trash in clear plastic bags for the city to pick up. Bags that are opaque or contain more than 10% recyclable or compostable materials can be left by teams hired by the city to collect waste.
Due to reduced garbage collection, the city has also seen an increase in recycling and composting efforts from its residents.
During the same periods in 2021 and 2022, recycling increased by 7% and composting by 21%.
Greg Preston, director of environmental services for the city, said the new program has had a number of positive effects.
“Orillians should be commended,” he said OrilliaMatters. “The program has the effect of encouraging people to divert whatever they can from their trash, and the proof is in the pudding with the numbers.”
Preston said the new program had a 95% compliance rate in its first week and a number of residents called the Orillia waste diversion site to inquire about proper disposal of waste. garbage, recyclables and compost.
“Many people have called us with questions about our recycling and green bin program. They ask, ‘OK, I don’t want my trash left behind.’ How can I recycle this? “, he said.
The city’s sale of green compost bins increased from an average of 100 units per month before the program to an average of 350 units in the months before and after its launch, according to a staff report.
The new program was implemented due to similar successes seen in Markham, Kawartha Lakes and Orangeville, Preston said, with Markham seeing an 11% increase in waste diversion after the first year of its clear bag program.
“Markham is a leader in waste diversion in Ontario, so we’ve been very fascinated to see the improvement and diversion they’ve seen with the program,” Preston said.
Reducing waste could save the city money in the long run, he said.
“Landfills are very difficult to install and expand, and landfill space in Ontario, in particular, is very scarce,” Preston said. “It certainly helps (to) extend the life of our landfill – we originally estimated two years – and it could even be more now depending on what we see with the great participation of the Orillians here .”
Preston also pointed out that better waste management will help the city fight climate change.
Organic materials in landfills produce methane, a greenhouse gas, and they also produce leachate or water that has been contaminated by landfill materials, he explained.
“It is essential that we remove these organic materials from the landfill so that they do not generate this gas,” he said. “And the quality of the leachate improves dramatically if you take the organics out and it’s composted instead.”
Residents with opaque garbage bags can still bring them directly to the waste diversion site.
Up to two small opaque “privacy bags” can be included with the clear bags provided for garbage collection.
Click here to read the city’s press release on the program.