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City surpassing targets with waste collection program

By Brad Perry Mar 23, 2023 | 4:52 PM

Saint John is seeing good results from its new garbage and recycling collection program, according to one city director.

The Waste Wise program saw curbside recycling roll out to around 22,000 households across the city in October.

Along with the changes to recycling came new limitations on how much garbage can be placed at the curb.

Tim O’Reilly, director of public works, said staff had hoped to reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill by 15 per cent.

“To say the targets have been achieved has been an understatement,” O’Reilly told council this week. “Over that period of time, it’s essentially been triple, with up to about a 43 per cent average reduction in garbage.”

At the same time, the city has noted an increase in the amount of material being recycled since the program began.

The city pays $123 a tonne to drop of garbage at the landfill and nothing for recycling. That means the more items that are recycled, the more money the city saves.

Staff estimated $614,000 would be recouped annually between savings in tipping fees and revenues from sold bag tags.

O’Reilly said they are on track to exceed that this year and recoup $650,000. While bag tag revenue is lower than expected, savings from tipping fees are more than double what the city first predicted.

Changes ahead in the coming weeks

While the program is working for most residents, staff said they want to ensure it is working for all city residents.

Currently, people who live in buildings with four or more units are not eligible for curbside recycling. And with the community blue bins removed last fall, they have to take their recyclables directly to the landfill.

O’Reilly said the long-term solution is a pending provincial-wide model currently being coordinated through Recycle NB.

The Extended Producer Responsibility program would see businesses that produce paper and packaging responsible for funding the recycling of those products.

“What that funding does is create the resources necessary in order to collect it,” said O’Reilly.

Recycle NB is working with a consortium on behalf of private companies to find the best solution, he said.

On Tuesday, the city announced it had launched a new program for residents who have extra garbage due to medical conditions.

Qualifying residents can apply to receive 52 excess garbage bag tags per year at no additional cost.

In addition, the city plans to launch a recycle tote and lid replacement blitz at some point in the coming weeks.

“We’re ordering thousands of additional recycle totes and lids. People will be able to pre-register for those and pick them up,” said O’Reilly.

Coun. Brent Harris said he has received many complaints from people about illegal dumping since the program launch.

O’Reilly said they have not seen an increase in illegal dumping on public property, and any issues on private land would be out of scope of the program.


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