City Council votes unanimously for privatization of recycling programs in apartments and condos

Valhalla Ridge housing

A new multi-family recycling strategy was approved unanimously by Calgary City Council in early February. Their goal is to eliminate all recyclable products from the city’s overall landfill waste, according to the City’s Multi-family Recycling Strategy Report.

Currently, 80 per cent of consumer waste ends up in landfills, while only 20 per cent is recycled, according to the City. Its goal is to reverse those numbers by 2020.

The recycling initiative will be in full swing by the year 2016 and the multi-family sector will be free to negotiate costs with the recycling provider of their choice.

“There are options out there for people” in the private sector said Coun. Jim Stevenson.

recycling1The recycling program is expected to be at multi-family structures such as the townhouses in southeast Calgary’s Deerfield Gardens by the year 2016.

Photo by Tiffany RitzMulti-family dwellings are made up of any building that has more than four units within the housing structure. This category of housing is comprised of condominiums, townhouses and multi-level apartment buildings.

These sorts of homes challenge the City of Calgary’s waste management goals as there is no one-size-fits-all solution for recycling services for the buildings; each have varying rates of occupancies and therefore different demands for recycling needs.

“The City is simply not equipped to deal with the variety of circumstances that exist in the multi-family sector,” Rob Pritchard, general manager of Waste and Recycling Services, said at the Feb. 10 meeting.

“To come up with a one-size-fits-all price would be virtually impossible.”

The City’s strategy would see multi-family residencies have mandated on-site recycling services, which would facilitate private businesses providing on-site recycling containers. These recycling companies would also perform the collection, hauling and processing of the recyclable materials.

The idea to bring recycling to multi-family housing was first recommended in 2011 after the City strategized their home-recycling program, which began with the distribution of the blue recycling bins to all single-dwelling homes in 2009.

According to a City of Calgary discussion document released in 2011, the City has seen tremendous success with its curbside blue recycling bins.

Some common household recyclable materials still being thrown in the trash are:

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Mixed papers
  • Shredded paper (must be enclosed)
  • Telephone books
  • Cardboard
  • Glass food and beverage containers
  • Metal food and beverage containers
  • Aluminum cans, foil and plates
  • Refundable beverage containers
  • Plastic bags and containers

The curbside program saw an increase of roughly 70 per cent of waste being recycled, as compared to the rates of recycling made at the community-recycling depots. The City had not only witnessed the success of their blue-bin project, but wanted to go further by fully implementing a recycling program within the multi-family home sector.

Advantages for the City’s 2020 recycling initiative are numerous, as this goal will make Calgary a more attractive city and reduce its negative eco-footprint, as suggested by a report from the City.

The benefits are not only environmentally and aesthetically pleasing, but the City of Calgary’s budget may also see a benefit as the expected costs for this initiative will be $350,000 annually. This is nearly three times less than the million dollars the City would have had to spend if they ran this program as a utility service.

According to the Multi-Family Recycling Strategy Engagement & Analysis document, the $350,000 is to be allocated towards supervision to ensure the multi-family units abide by the bylaws and that a minimum level of service is given by the privatized system.

This housing sector will have a 15-month grace period to fully implement the services in accordance to the City’s bylaws.

Also, this agreement to go forward with privatized recycling will see that there is full implementation by the year 2016 of the remaining 70 per cent of multi-family structures still without a suitable recycling program.

Furthermore, any occupants of a multi-family unit with any questions or concerns in regards to the recycling strategy can seek more information at the City of Calgary website. 

What do you think? Did City Council make the right call in their decision to implement a privatized recycling program for multi-family housing? 

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