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Niagara ready to roll with new trash-collection plan

Anyone surprised when their curbside trash isn’t collected during the week of Oct. 19 can’t say they weren’t warned.

Niagara’s switch to pickup every second week — instead of weekly as happens now — has been debated at public meetings, advertised in newspapers, bus shelters and billboards, promoted at grocery stores and farmers markets, and posted to social media.

Now it’s full steam ahead, officials say.

“We’re simply asking (residents) to embrace the green bin effort and divert their organic material” away from landfill, said Niagara Region waste management director Catherine Habermebl on Thursday.

Blue and grey box recyclables, as well as green bin compostables, will still be picked up every week as usual.

For the rest, Niagara has been divided into two groups that will get their garbage cans and trash bags picked up on a one week on, one week off basis.

Residents will also be allowed to put out two cans or bags each time, instead of the current limit of one.

Group A — St. Catharines, Fort Erie, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Thorold, Pelham, West Lincoln and Wainfleet — goes first, with pickup the week of Oct. 19.

Group B — Niagara Falls, Welland, Port Colborne, Grimsby and Lincoln — won’t be picked up that week but will start the week of Oct. 26.

The two groups will continue to rotate that way going forward.

The day of the week the trash gets picked up will still be the same except in two places — all of Wainfleet will get collection on Mondays, and Pelham residents currently receiving Wednesday pickup will switch to Mondays.

The change comes at the same time two new contractors take over collection for the region. Miller Waste Systems and GFL Environmental were contracted for seven years.

Habermebl said the goal behind switching to pickup every second week is to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

She said studies show as much as half the contents of cans or bags of garbage put out for collection consists of organic material, such as leftover food, that could be composted.

A further 14 per cent is recyclable material that could be put in blue or grey boxes.

“We want to drive that material out of the garbage can and into the green bin and blue box,” Habermebl said.

She said it’s better for the environment and will help increase the lifespan of landfills. It will also bring more revenue in for the Region, which sells some of the recyclables it collects and the compost it produces.

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Niagara now diverts about 57 per cent of waste away from landfills — but the goal was to hit 65 per cent by this year.

The diversion rate has increased slowly over the years, Habermebl said, but the last time there was a dramatic jump was after 2011, when Niagara began limiting people to one garbage can at the curb.

“Despite the great effort we have done in terms of promotion and education for residents,” switching to pickup every second week is likely what it takes to convince people to use their green bins more, she said.

An app, called Niagara Region Waste, can be downloaded to smartphones or through the municipality’s website that will provide information specific to the user’s street address. That includes reminders of collection days, real-time information for pickup times or delays, and tips on good waste management practices.

Habermebl said so far about 9,000 people have downloaded the app since it became available in mid-September.

Changes to expect after Oct. 19

Residences are limited to two bags or cans of garbage for each pickup every other week. Any more will require a tag, which cost $2.50 apiece.

Collection of large household items will be limited to four per pickup;

White goods, such as appliances or metal items, will no longer be picked up (the Region found local pickers were grabbing them before contractors could get there);

There is an “exemption” program for families that require weekly pickup of diapers or used medical supplies. To apply to have those items picked up each week, go to NiagaraRegion.ca/waste;

For more information on the new waste management program, or in case of problems with pickup, phone Niagara Region at 905-356-4141 or 1-800-594-5542 or go to NiagaraRegion.ca/waste.

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