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A glimpse of trash collecting in the future

Red Deer residents got their first glimpse on Saturday of a new waste collection system now being contemplated.

An update of the city’s waste management master plan, now underway, includes converting to a system of three bins, colour coded for organics, recyclables and garbage.

The standardized bins would allow automated collection so they could be picked up and emptied by equipment mounted on a truck rather than by hand, said waste management superintendent Janet Whitesell.

She and waste management consultant Christina Seidel from Sonnevera Consulting International set up a booth at Parkland Mall on Saturday to introduce the plan and gauge public response.

The system gives residents more opportunity to divert garbage from the landfill while reducing the physical strain and injuries for trash collectors, who commonly handle 2,000 bags or boxes of trash per day, said Whitesell.

Under the plan now being considered, use of the bins — green for compost, blue for recycling and black for garbage — would become mandatory. People would be asked to buy their bins on an installment program, with the city to maintain and replace them as necessary.

Each home would have a choice of three sizes of bins, depending on their needs.

Seidel said that, as of 2 p.m. on Saturday, she had not heard anyone argue against the proposal.

Of particular note, the new system will divert a large amount of organic waste from the landfill and into a composting system.

Organic waste that could be composted currently makes up about 37 per cent of the total amount going into the landfill, not including yard waste, said Seidel.

She said a similar rollout in Calgary did create a backlash, likely because it came at the same time as a change in billing structure.

At the same time that the City of Calgary introduced the automated pickup system and its mandatory bins, it carved trash collection out of its tax structure and moved to a utility billing system.

That caused some shock among city residents who had not been aware before then of what they were paying for waste management, said Seidel.

Red Deerians will see a modest increase in their utility bills to cover the payments for their bins as the new system is rolled out here, said Whitesell.

However, the overall costs of trash collection will be reduced over time with labour savings available for waste contractors and the reduction of organic waste going into the landfill, she said.

Surveys now being gathered on the city’s updated waste management plans will be included in a report that will be presented to city council on May 13, said Whitesell.

The report will include plans for a pilot project, which has yet to be laid out, she said.



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