Council to weigh cut to trash bag limit

Residents may soon be taking less trash to the curb.

Residents may soon be taking less trash to the curb.

The Governance and Policy Committee will recommend reducing the maximum residential garbage bag limit to three bags from five bags at an upcoming council meeting.

The committee supported administration’s recommendation from the Waste Management Master Plan (WMMP) on Tuesday.

Mayor Tara Veer said the city had delayed making the change until the blue-box recycling program was expanded.

She said reducing the residential bag limit potentially could have been cost prohibitive for some households without providing the additional diversion opportunities.

The city expanded its blue box program to include the addition of Number 1 to 7 plastics in December 2015.

All of those diversions actually make the bag limit reduction more feasible for households, said Veer.

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Janet Whitesell, the city’s waste management superintendent, said the average household sets out 1.8 bags of waste per week.

She said some households may have more garbage at certain times of year.

The change is about encouraging the use of its diversion programs and moving towards the waste reduction targets, she said.

“It’s achievable with our diversion programs and what we observe what our residents are doing at the moment, ” she said. “The five bag limit was never intended to always stay at five. It was always something that was in our plans and discussions.”

A 2011 survey indicated that 53 per cent of residents would support lowering the weekly limit. Of those respondents, 57 per cent supported a three-bag limit; 23 per cent support a two-bag limit and 20 per cent support a four-bag limit.

Findings from the 2013 WMMP public consultation suggests 77 per cent of residents were in support of lowering the bag limit when linked to increasing the types of plastics accepted in the blue box program.

The bag reduction is part of the city’s overall strategy to reduce Red Deer’s per capita disposal rate to 500 kg per capita by 2023.

Nearly 75,000 tonnes of waste from Red Deer was disposed at the Red Deer Waste Management Facility in 2011, the most current data. That translates to 812 kg per capita. By comparison, the Canadian average is 777 kg per capita, and the Alberta average is 1,122 kg per capita.

Council will debate the recommendation in the coming weeks. If it passes three readings, the service change may go into effect as of April 25.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com