Last February we learned that our waste management system is failing to meet our 2012 outlined targets of achieving 90 per cent of residential waste diversion from landfills. Unfortunately, we weren’t even close, with only about 50 per cent of our waste over the past five years being recycled or reused.
As a city that strives to lead the way in sustainable practices and in reducing our environmental impact, it is crucial, now that we know how we’re performing, to make tough decisions that will improve our future results.
At a recent utility committee meeting, proposals were laid out that would shift Edmonton from a two-stream system that collects waste and recyclables, to a three-stream system that adds a separate organics collection. In order to accommodate the collection of organics, the city would build a new compost facility that would be operating in 2022 at the earliest. The proposal also includes a restriction on the amount of waste each household would be able to set out on the curb each week, a standard practice in cities across the province.
Over the next few months, Council will be assessing implementation methods to determine a fair system before we deploy a pilot program. We are weighing factors such as frequency of collections and a variety of size restrictions.
Another key change that will help the City reach its goal is to phase out curb-side collection of grass clippings. The hope is that this will encourage residents to leave grass clippings on their lawns, or take them to eco-stations where they can be dropped off free of charge.
There is still a lot to discuss and decide to ensure the waste management system is as efficient and effective in meeting our goals, as it is helpful to all of us who have to use it. As we weigh our options and make decisions, the City will first concentrate on single-family homes and eventually extend any new programs to multi-family units.
Waste Services is expected to report back to council in June 2019 with a full strategy for residential, industrial, commercial and institutional garbage collection.