If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the position the city’s community development committee took Thursday on waste management, but not without some questions about whether black trash pickup is frequent enough.
The Council asked city administration to investigate ways to reduce the cost of garbage collection for people who use their black bins less.
While the city’s waste management department has developed a successful way to add a little more capacity to the weekly pickup through a program called tag-a-bag, it has recommended against a pay-per-tip system.
This would have caused residents to pay less if they put their black trash out for collection less often than the biweekly schedule, but after looking at the numbers, the city found that it would end up costing everyone more in the long run.
That didn’t stop one board member from asking if other changes to the system might be needed.
Shovel. Andre Chabot asked if the city has considered making a second cart available for those who want to pay for it, since the system is a paid service.
“In my community what I see is a lot of overcrowded black cars,” Chabot said. “People polluting the waste stream in their blue cars and green cars because they exceeded the capacity of their black cars. Many people who do not understand the tag-a-bag system. And as a result, they throw excess trash either in the next-door neighbor’s trash cans or in their blue cart or green cart which further pollutes our waste stream as far as our recyclables and our organic products.”
City says pay-per-point black cart system would be too expensive to implement
New provincial recycling regulations could take a bite out of blue waste fees
Chabot also wanted to know if the city had looked into swapping the frequency on black and blue trolley pickups. Blue recyclable cart pickup is currently every week, while black cart is every other week.
“I can tell you for the people in my area, they say, ‘I put out my blue card maybe once a month, but I have to put out my black card weekly,'” Chabot said.
Julie Radke, director of waste and recycling services, told Chabot that the current system works for 96 percent of users, according to the city’s customer engagement research.
“Those who do (have too many black cart waste) who don’t fill up their green carts and their blue carts,” Radke said. “I might question whether they properly stream their material that comes out of their house or not.”
She said this issue can be addressed through education. The city makes information available in five languages so that newcomers to Calgary will still know how to properly dispose of their waste.
Administration said the tag-a-bag program is the best solution for those who have an extra bag. But Chabot was told that a second bin could be made available to a household at twice the cost of normal black bin service, in extenuating circumstances. The extra bin can be requested through 311.
Council heard that tag-a-bag has been successful with the city selling 880,000 tags since the program’s launch in October 2020. The tags cost $3 each and are sold in packs of five. They can be bought wherever transport tickets are sold.
Committee Chairwoman Kourtney Penner said the city has a robust program built on customer engagement and research that meets the vast majority of user needs.
She said the door is always open to modify the program as needed, but for now the committee does not see the need for change.
“And so, in this case … simple is better,” Penner said. “It’s just so effective and, and it produces very, very good results.”