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County residents slow to adopt rural waste, recycling pickup

County residents slow to adopt rural waste, recycling pickup

by Patrick Raftis

GUELPH - More Wellington County residents are using expanded rural pickup to send recycling, rather than garbage, to local landfill and transfer station sites.

However, overall, county residents have been slow to adopt to the new service.

A staff report presented at the Sept. 28 Wellington County council meeting indicates total recycling managed by the county’s solid waste services division increased by 359 tonnes since the expansion of rural collection in July 2016.

This represents a 6.4 per cent increase over the same period the previous year.

Over the same period, garbage disposed increased by less than 1%, even with population growth in the county.

“This suggests that with the convenience of curbside service, more recycling was captured in the blue box program rather than in the garbage stream,” solid waste services manager Das Soligo explains in the report.

Councillor Don McKay, chair of the solid waste services committee, told council rural residents haven’t switched to the new system as quickly as anticipated.

“It maybe hasn’t moved as fast … the uptake of the residents in the rural communities, as expected,” said McKay.

The report shows that throughout rural areas where collection began last year, 22 per cent of residents are putting out garbage and 43% are recycling.

This compares with 52% using waste collection and 69% recycling in Erin and Guelph Eramosa, where rural collection has been in place longer.

Individually, 58% of Erin rural residents are using waste pickup and 69% are using recycling.

In Guelph-Eramosa the figures are 46 and 68% respectively.

Of the five areas where rural pickup was implemented last year, only the Town of Minto was involved in a previous rural pickup pilot project, which was discontinued there in 2008.

At that time, Minto residents were putting out recycling and waste respectively at rates of 17 and 38%. Last year, only 15% of Minto residents put out garbage and 38% used the recycling pickup service.

In other new service areas the results were:

- Mapleton, 21% waste, 48% recycling;

- Centre Wellington, 20% waste, 37% recycling;

- Wellington North, 28% waste, 45% recycling; and

- Puslinch, 28% waste, 45% recycling.

Combined across the entire county, 31% of rural residents are using waste pickup and 51% are using recycling.

The staff report cautions that the current figures come from sample areas of the various municipalities selected for a participation study, not the entire municipality.

Figures detailing the number of garbage and recycling stops on routes by Waste Management show a monthly increase in garbage and recycling collected.

The report states this trend “suggests the above participation numbers are in fact understating actual participation in the program.

“Anecdotally, staff are also observing higher participation in many areas that have not yet been selected for the participation study.”

McKay noted staff anticipates a gradual increase in usage of the services in new areas.

“It takes a lot for people to change the way they do things … I still like to go to the transfer station although I can put my blue box and my refuse out on the curb and I think there’s’ still some people that like to do that,” McKay stated.

“As time goes on I think  that people will see the benefits of having it picked up at the door.”

Hazardous household waste

Another new service that has been in operation for over a year now is the county’s Mobile Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Depot, launched in July of 2016.

The program replaced HHW event days in the five member municipalities that host a county waste facility.

The depot has been placed for a month at a time at each waste facility and this year two county road garages were added to the rotation, meaning the depot will spend at least one month in each of the county’s member municipalities each year.

“This new schedule has eliminated the need for single HHW event days,” a staff report notes.

While the amount of waste collected increased almost 5% in 2016 compared to 2015 (the mobile depot was in operation the latter half of 2016 only), the amount of times residents dropped off materials is approximately 20% higher, the report notes.

“The more accessible HHW drop off opportunities are, the more likely that individuals will dispose of these items properly,” it states.

McKay told council, “People are very pleased that now they have a whole month to go to the landfill or transfer station with their hazardous waste instead of that one day.”

October 6, 2017


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