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Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Garbage pickup every two weeks?

The City of Ottawa is considering picking up garbage bi-weekly instead of weekly, but picking up all recycling/composting (blue box, black box and green bin) weekly instead of bi-weekly.

I like this idea. Ever since the green bin composting program was launched a year ago, I’ve been generating very little actual ‘garbage.’ Maybe, on average, a white kitchen-catcher full each week. Everything else goes into one of the bins. Yesterday I even had to relegate some green bin waste to the garbage, because there wasn’t any room left in my green bin.

Almost everything that used to go in the garbage can now go in the green bin. Mine’s full of newspapers from the floors of the four bird cages, kitty litter, plate scrapings, banana peels, vegetables that were purchased with the best of intentions, and floor sweepings.

I noticed yesterday morning on my 5km walk that while my block is actually pretty good (almost every house had a green bin on the curb awaiting pickup), there were quite a few blocks in which only one or two green bins were put out. Those houses that didn’t put out green bins tended to have at least three or four green garbage bags on the curb.

The proposed change in the pick-up schedule should encourage non-recyclers and non-composters to get with the program.

I have to admit I wasn’t an early or enthusiastic user of the recycling program (the blue bin or the black bin). I knew a former City alderman who insisted that the whole recycling program was a scam. He said the City didn’t actually recycle any of the stuff people sorted and put out in their bins, because it was financially prohibitive. So I didn’t bother at first.

Eventually, though, I started. I figured maybe his information was outdated (after all, how long has it been since we even had aldermen?)

Ever since the green bin program was launched, I’ve been much better about all my recycling. I love my green bin, and I’m proud of my dainty little bag of garbage that goes to the curb.

In GC’s neighbourhood, the green bin program was delayed and optional. People had to actually make a phone call if they wanted a green bin. Most people didn’t bother. GC was thrilled to finally get his. He’s a really good recycler – he even washes empty cans and milk cartons and removes labels before putting them in the bins. I’m not that good. I have a hard enough time getting around to washing dishes, let alone trash.

Anyway. There will be a series of public consultations before any decisions are made. I expect a lot of people will oppose the proposal, for lots of interesting reasons. (I’m hoping, though, that the kind of people who don’t bother recycling are also the kind of people who don’t bother going to public consultations, and in the absence of any serious public outcry, the proposal will go through.)

10 comments to Garbage pickup every two weeks?

  • Greencolander

    Love love love the idea of garbage pick up. However, laziness usually prevails so I don’t expect the measure to be approved, sadly.

  • EK

    I think this is a great idea – but I feel that it’ll make non-composters more pissed off. My dad refuses to take part in the program (even refusing to help with the compost garbage that the rest of the family puts into the bin) because he believes it’s a waste of money, and he’s upset they didn’t pick it up one week when it was frozen. This will definitely make him more angry.

  • Manon

    In Toronto, where the green bin/black bin programme was launched several years ago, they hit the proscrastinators by charging for the size of the black bin (garbage) you want. You cannot leave any number of garbage bags out for collection, they MUST fit in your black bin. So unless you want to pay close to $200 a year for the largest black bin offered, you are forced to recycle in your blue bin or sort all the food in your green bin to produce the least amount of real garbage to fit in a smaller black bin (the free one). Don’t worry, I am sure that eventually, Ottawa will start doing that too… As for the bi-weekly collection, here again, we switched several years ago. The green bin is collected every week, and on alternate weeks, the black or the blue bin is collected. You just have to remember which one it is that particular week, so the city distributes calendars with the collection reminders. All this was a pain at first, now it’s second nature, and I am a bit shocked when I go to places that don’t sort and recycle. And believe me, I am not obsessed with recycling and the environment, but I am a bit horrified when I think how much garbage a city produces, so every bit helps!

  • It’s great that the green bin program has been so successful. I keep meaning to go buy a green bin. Of course, training Dave to use it will be interesting. It took forever to get him to recycle cans, bottles and paper. Even then the best I could get him to do was NOT put it in the garbage and leave it on the counter for me to recycle.

  • lucy

    I would be OK with garbage pick-up every 2 weeks. Like you, we only generate one small bag of garbage per week, and since it’s all inorganic stuff it could be kept an additional week without smelling. Apart from that I’m OK with the present bi-weekly pick up of recyclables. During the summer I filled my green bin, plus extra yard waste bags, with windfalls from my apple tree every week, so I was really happy about the weekly pickup of the green bin; my yard would have been full of flies otherwise! At this time of year it’s usually only about 1/2 full, although I do cook a lot and generate a lot of veggie scraps (I don’t have birds or cats so I don’t produce as much stuff as you do.)

    I wash empty cans too, I thought everybody did. But I don’t remove labels and I do have trouble keeping up with dishwashing too, even though I have a dishwasher (with a kid who is on a permanent growth spurt eating constantly all day, washing dishes is like fighting a losing battle….)

  • I adore this idea. I’m going to look at the schedule and make a point of attending a consultation. Already we are running into trouble with our green bin being full with the every-other-week pickup – I’ve been thinking about getting a second one, although I guess just reducing the amount of waste we generate would also be good :). In any case, I’d love to have my recycling picked up every week, and the amount of garbage we generate – usually one black bag full for our family of five – could easily wait that second week.

  • We have biweekly pickup AND giant green bins AND we need to sort our recycling AND it goes into clear blue bags AND our garbage is restricted to 2 bags AND those 2 bags biweekly must be clear bags so if you fill them with recyclable materials and or compostable materials they can leave them with you.

    If you have anything unusual or more garbage than will fit in two clear bags a week (and there is a size restriction too) you need to cart it to the dump yourself and pay the tipping fee.

    No one complains.

    I’m sick of hearing about how you can’t expect people to sort waste or compost, or simply produce a little less garbage. How bout we just return to midden piles, take care of your waste yourself, in your yard. Because guess what the “dump” is always going to be in SOMEONE’S backyard.

  • Here in Vancouver we’re also contemplating shifting the garbage pickup to every-other week and green bin every week. So far they only take yard waste (leaves, twigs, branches etc), fruit & veg waste (uncooked), eggshells, tea leaves/bags and coffee grounds. They’re talking about expanding to more compostable items as well as picking up more often. We have a large yard and a huge compost so our green bin only gets the stuff we don’t want to bother with! Our garbage (the smallest size bin) is usually only full once a month anyhow and even our recycling bin only goes out once or twice a month so I don’t mind if they change the frequency. Most people are pretty good about recycling and they are just adjusting to the new composting but I wish they would find a better solution for dog waste than dropping their plastic bags full of crap in MY garbage! Take it home and flush it already! Bleh.

  • Jill

    We, in “rural” Nova Scotia, have garbage and recycling pick up on the same day every two weeks. I was a little panicked at first, but it’s really no big deal as long as you have somewhere to keep all that “stuff”. We happen to have a deck and a storage area underneath that serves us well.

  • TechWood

    I am huge advocate of making people pay the true price of their consumption. If free-trade agreements have eliminated our ability to place tariffs/duties on things coming into the country, then the only thing we can do is tax the waste that all of our consumption habits produce.

    My personal belief is that garbage collection should not be a service paid for by property owners via their taxes. It should be completely usage based. $200 for a bin for a year is ridiculously low. Look at what the cost of an acre of land goes for, now consider it’s price over the next 100 years if it were to be bought, sold, taxed, etc. just like any other real estate that was in an area zoned to permit a toxic business. Include all the monitoring fees that will be required for the rest of time to come as well.

    For the sake of argument, lets say that “special” acre has a cost of 5,000,000 anywhere within a “haulable” distance of Ottawa over the 100 year period. 1 acre of landfill 24 feet deep would be valued at approximately $5 per cubic foot. Would people be angry? Yes. Would they revolt, yes and they would probably try to dump there stuff rather than pay for it. Therefore the penalty would have to be stiff for those caught to thwart others from carrying out the same inconsiderate deeds. Perhaps have them charged with fines high enough that they’d have no choice but to move to a lower cost neighbourhood, like right next to a landfill or perhaps somewhere further, like Chernobyl.