Cart system rolling out to 31,000 Red Deer homes starting next spring

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
May 1, 2017 - 8:57pm Updated: May 2, 2017 - 11:16am

Spring 2018 will bring with it the city-wide implementation of green carts.

Residents will receive these carts next April to dispose of organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste. The carts will be collected weekly.

In April 2019, residents will receive blue carts for recycling and black carts for garbage that will be picked up bi-weekly on an alternating basis.

Janet Whitesell, Waste Management Superintendent, says the three-cart system has evolved from an industry best practice to an industry standard.

“This is part of our long-term plan to reduce waste, associated greenhouse gas emissions, and prolong the life of our landfill,” she says.

City-wide expansion follows a two-year pilot program involving 2,000 homes. A report to council on Monday indicated between 96 and 98 per cent of participants were either 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with the movement and stability of the blue and black carts.

However, only 77 per cent stated they were satisfied or very satisfied with collection being every other week.

Whitesell says the pilot has shown significant progress in that area.

“What we’re seeing is if people are fully utilizing their green carts and their blue carts, then what’s left in the garbage is pretty minimal. We have seen a 39 per cent reduction in the amount of garbage our pilot households are sending out,” she says.

Addressing some concerns from the public and council, Whitesell noted the carts have a 12-year warranty and that homeowners won’t be penalized if one becomes damaged. She also explained that while there will be an initial spike in costs to purchase the carts and implement the program, operating costs will balance out by 2020.

Purchaing the green, blue and black carts for 31,000 homes will cost the City approximately $7.1 million. When green carts are rolled out next year, it will equate to a $1.02/month increase on your utility bill. When black carts are distributed in 2019, the increase will depend on which size cart you choose, either 120L, 240L or 360L. 

Councillors Dianne Wyntjes and Tanya Handley voted against the proposal. Wyntjes cited concerns over a lack of public consultation, noting Whitesell’s mention that two out of five houses surveyed had no idea the pilot was even going on.

In an effort to capture that sentiment in the final resolution, council agreed to add a clause which calling for a communication and education program to begin no later than June 15 of this year. There will also be one final report on implementation based on citizen feedback, which will return to council eight months from now.

“We hear from a lot of residents that they want organics diversion, they want cart-based collection. The planned system really integrates the collection of garbage, organics and recycling to come up with a cost-effective way of doing that. As well, diversion from the landfill has lots of benefits, in addition to just doing the right thing for the environment," Whitesell concludes.

"It saves our landfill space, which has significant capital costs when we have to build more. And, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions as food waste decomposes within landfills to produce methane.”

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