Special Report: Waste Management

Presentation: Don't Lift Garbage Limit

Maintaining the current garbage container limit will greatly increase our community's ability to achieve the waste diversion and minimization goals stated and endorsed by Council in Vision 2020.

By Larry Pomerantz
Published January 16, 2012

If all goes as planned, I will deliver a presentation to City Council this morning on the proposal to increase the garbage bag limit.

Council can save taxpayers upwards of $2 million dollars on the proposed 2013 to 2020 garbage and recycling collection contract by maintaining the current household rate of one garbage container per week. The proposed contract recommends up to six garbage containers per household, to be collected every second week.

Last week, approximately 15 people confirmed their participation in our second Let's Call City Hall campaign to show support for a one garbage bag limit. A few people retweeted the message and a few commented on Facebook. Thank you to everyone who made an effort to engage City Hall.

We experienced the exponential participation growth that we were seeking but this will be the week we find out if people really believe that civic engagement can produce positive results.

Even if you called last week, it would be helpful if you call again and for everyone who did not call, please do so on Monday morning or whenever you can. It would be really nice if you would also tweet individual Council members before or during my presentation.

Unfortunately, I don't know exactly when I am up to make my presentation, but I will be there by 9:30 am. Even if you receive this message later than I had hoped, please still call and tweet.

Some people have asked me what they should say when they call City Hall. The following script may be helpful and you are welcome to add or delete any information to meet your needs. Leaving your name, phone number, home address and email address will provide Councillors a better opportunity to respond and to determine if you live in their Wards.

Hello, my name is [NAME HERE]. My address is [ADDRESS] and my phone number is [PHONE NUMBER]. This message is for the Mayor and Councillors. I wish to register my support for the City's current limit of one garbage container per household per week. Please do not accept a waste and recycling contract that permits increases to the current limit.

Let's Call City Hall and let them know we support a one garbage container limit.

Send an email to HamiltonCivicLeague@gmail.com to confirm you made a call to City Hall. We will update the LetsCallCityHall website with the number of calls confirmed. The Hamilton Civic League welcomes proposals for future Let's Call City Hall campaigns.

Join / re-join the Hamilton Civic League to guarantee receipt of future updates and please forward this email to extend our invitation of free 2012 membership to your family and friends.

Presentation

It is garbage day in my neighbourhood today. I placed two blue boxes, a green cart and a mostly empty garbage can curbside. It required two trips to the curb; the first carrying two stacked blue boxes and the second dragging both the wheeled green cart and the wheeled garbage can.

When I arrive home later today, I will stack the two empty blue boxes and take them back to my house with the garbage container and green cart, in a single trip. Two trips to the curb, one trip back to the house.

When I think about it, I could just make one trip to and back from the curb using only one container. Everything inside the blue boxes and the green cart could have fit into the one garbage container along with my garbage.

I am sure there are Hamiltonians who don't bother to recycle because the current one garbage container limit meets all their weekly waste disposal needs.

I believe it is safe to say that there are many more households that could not get by with a single garbage container. Maybe they would need two or three to handle all of their weekly waste, and recycling.

If a single garbage container provides enough weekly capacity for me to avoid recycling today, a two or three weekly garbage container limit would make it easy for almost all Hamilton households to opt-out of recycling in the future.

Most Households Meet Limit

City Staff state, "most households already meet the current one garbage container limit." Today, garbage day, most households in my neighbourhood will abide by the bylaw and only put one garbage container curbside. There is no need to increase the limit to two or three containers when the garbage trucks already pickup all of Hamilton's garbage under a one container limit.

We could offer to pay the garbage contractors more to accept additional garbage, but we only generate one garbage container of waste per household each week, so why would we offer to pay more, when we don't generate more garbage?

The proposed waste and recycling contract calls for an increase to allow up to six (6) containers per household to be collected every second week at an additional cost to taxpayers of $250,000 annually or $1.75 million over the duration of the contract.

Based on current levels of garbage generated, most households will require no more than two (2) containers and City Staff state, "many households may continue to set out a minimum amount of garbage on the proposed bi-weekly schedule." I represent one of the households that will continue to set out only one garbage container bi-weekly.

Illegal Dumping

With respect to the issue of illegal dumping, the following has been taken directly from the City's website.

Municipalities that implement container limits do not experience a sustained increase in illegal dumping. For example, Kingston experienced a small increase in illegal dumping at first, but it was nothing like what they were told would happen.

As quoted in The Hamilton Spectator on November 22, 2007, Kingston's solid waste manager John Giles notes, "It is a perceived problem, but in reality it is not."

Source: http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/PublicWorks/WasteManagement/ONE+Container+Limit+Answers.htm

Illegal dumping cited by City Staff refers to "bulk items and leaf and yard waste". The new contract provides weekly leaf and yard waste collection so this particular dumping issue should be resolved.

Increased garbage container limits will not affect illegal bulk item dumping. However, eliminating transfer station fees for bulk items only may reduce dumping incidents. Clearly, illegal dumping cannot justify a proposed increase to the number of garbage containers permitted per household.

Special Consideration

With respect to the issue of "special consideration and grace weeks", where heightened volumes of waste may be generated at individual properties or City-wide, the City currently has a process in place to accommodate such circumstances.

Staff report the related administrative cost to taxpayers to be minimal at approximately ¼ of a full-time employee's wages.

Waste Watchers (WW) is an Earth Day Hamilton (EDH) program in partnership with the City, Waste Reduction Task Force and the Clean City Liaison Committee. WW provides waste diversion education, assistance and training at festivals, schools and other public spaces.

EDH is prepared to expand its WW program to households in need of assistance to achieve the current one container limit.

Conclusion

In conclusion, acceptance of the proposed contract while maintaining the current limit of one garbage container per household per week (or two garbage containers bi-weekly), will result in the following benefits:

It should also be noted that the proposed contract ends in the year 2020. Maintaining the current garbage container limit will greatly increase our community's ability to achieve the waste diversion and minimization goals stated and endorsed by Council in the Vision2020 document.

Larry Pomerantz is the Chair of Hamilton Civic League.

31 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 09:37:59

Someone needs to help me out. I'm not a garbage fanatic who spends hours a week sorting everything. In fact I spend no extra time now than I used to before the green bins came along. Yet, our family of 5 produces a completely full green bin and two full blue boxes every week and half a can of garbage. With no effort. What am I missing??
The extent of my effort is literally opening a green lid instead of grey lid, and tossing recyclables into blue bins instead of the grey one. That's it.
I can't help but think city council is considering making this change simply to appease those too lazy to toss stuff in the right bin, again, unless I'm missing something. The last thing I want is bi-weekly pickup. My backyard would turn into a mini-transfer station with 2 green bins and a whack load of blue boxes.

Permalink | Context

By JM (registered) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 10:09:15 in reply to Comment 73063

sadly, some people just can't be bothered to try...

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 09:55:12 in reply to Comment 73063

Please note that green and blue bin pickup would still be weekly. Only garbage pickup would be bi-weekly. The idea is that reducing the frequency of garbage pickup would give people more of an incentive to sort and divert compostable/recyclable waste.

The stuff in garbage that gets stinky (especially in the summer) is the stuff that should be going into the green bin instead.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 17, 2012 at 09:55:14 in reply to Comment 73067

So, I'm not missing anything?? The city is actually considering doing away with our diversion plan because some people are too lazy to open the proper lid?? I love the math at city hall too. Picking up 3 bags a week instead of 1 will actually increase the lifespan of our landfill by 3 years. haha. Heck, if that's the case, let's have no limit and increase the lifespan of the landfill by decades!

Permalink | Context

By but the bag limit increases (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 10:03:34 in reply to Comment 73067

Surely you don't support the monthly limit increasing to 12 bags as opposed to the current 4 plus 3

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 13:23:51 in reply to Comment 73068

Why can't we try biweekly garbage pickup with a limit of 3 bags every 2 weeks? A slight increase in total allowed but with the extra incentive to divert more green waste to avoid 2 week old rotten fruit?

Permalink | Context

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 15:10:09 in reply to Comment 73079

I had the same thoughts Sean

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 09:38:10

Nice work, Larry. Would much rather see the $2M go towards greater education about our waste streams (i.e. what stuff goes in what bin) and promotion of the city's diversion goals (we were at 49% in 2010, but have a ways to go to reach the 65% goal set by Council).

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By 1 bag limit (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 09:40:46

Although I believe a 1 container(not one bag BTW) limit should be easy to achieve for most its clear that some are so inherently lazy that its not achievable by all. IMO what the city needs to do is figure out a way to charge a reasonable amount for extra pickup that reflects both the extra costs these people are inflicting on the reasonable but also reflects the notion that the city is actually providing the service we are paying for. For example, with the minimum charge at the transfer station set so high it acts as a deterrent for those who are actually trying to meet the limit but need to dispose of 1 or 2 extra containers from time to time. If we are going to a bi-weekly pickup going beyond 3 containers per pickup will increase the allowable amount from what was just passed. Do we really need to do this????? Most people are getting it done with one container and those who aren't are generally coming close judging by the stats provided by the city. Surely 6 containers has to be seen as a total surrender to the 5% of people who will STILL choose to ignore all rules. More importantly, such a large limit will most likely see a return of huge amounts of recyclable and compostable material going back into the landfill stream as most people are inherently lazy and its easier not to separate if its really not required. $1M is way out of line to monitor and enforce illegal dumping but it will still be required as any cleanup effort of the last 30 years illustrates. The illegal dumping preceded the one bag limit and its not going to miraculously disappear by allowing almost unlimited volumes of acceptable trash because unacceptable curbside trash still exists and will still find its way into our alleys parks and ravines

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 10:08:49

Well done, Larry. A good clear voice...hopefully the right people listen.

Why is this such a big deal? Why do people make 'diversion' such an issue?

Mostly because...as with voting and with personal fitness and finance...people don't care. They aren't motivated.

They sure were during the last century's two World Wars. When individuals and communities did what needed to be done...even if the actual war effort was thousands of miles away. Some people -apparently- see the 'sacrifice' of having to process their waste as being too great.

But as someone pointed out recently, we've lost not only a sense of 'community', but the 'entitlement' mindset has become the default setting. Except it's not just entitlement in terms of what people feel they 'deserve', it's also entitlement in terms of what they should have their time impinged by. Or not, as the case may be.

It doesn't help that this initiative comes from 'government', and people aren't exactly willing to be told what they should and shouldn't do, how they should and shouldn't regard their own waste.

'What goes around, comes around.'

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 10:15:39

Recycling and sorting garbabge is a complete waste of time. Resources can be used for more productive purposes. If recycling is so valuable why is nobody offering to pay me cash for my old newspapers and pop cans?

People need a grad degree to understand all these different garbage rules. Is it any wonder that people are dumping garbage? Hamilton has many places where we can hide trash.

Permalink | Context

By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 20:48:43 in reply to Comment 73071

Are you f'ing kidding me? You can get an education and take the go train to a presumably high paying job in Toronto but you can't learn what goes in what bin? Kids know that by 3rd grade now. People who think recycling is hard should drive dump trucks to Michigan every day to dispose of their city's trash, then tell us how hard it is to put paper in one bin and plastic in the other.

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 10:32:27 in reply to Comment 73071

Recycling and sorting garbabge (sic) is a complete waste of time.

OK. I'll play along; what would this enormous accumulation of time be otherwise used for? (And how much are we talking about? On both sides of the equation.)

Resources can be used for more productive purposes.

Such as...?

If recycling is so valuable why is nobody offering to pay me cash for my old newspapers and pop cans?

Clearly we're using a different definition of 'valuable'.

People need a grad degree to understand all these different garbage rules.

LOL Well...maybe that's how it looks to you. I'd be curious to see a short film about your life. Your habits, your capabilities...

Is it any wonder that people are dumping garbage?

No. It's not. These sorts of people are found everywhere, in every city in every culture. They're asshats. They just don't care. (And their minor-league cousins can be seen in smokers, who do the same thing on a micro-scale when they flick a butt to dispose of it.)

People aren't dumping garbage because their brains are fried from trying to figure how how to process their garbage. They're dumping because they're asshats. Period.

Hamilton has many places where we can hide trash.

Thanks for confirming that you're one of those asshats.

(And yes Ryan; I fed the troll...)

http://townhallshamilton.blogspot.com/20...

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2012-01-16 10:32:46

Permalink | Context

By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted January 18, 2012 at 20:50:44 in reply to Comment 73072

I support your asshat theory.

Permalink | Context

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 12:42:45 in reply to Comment 73072

"what would this enormous accumulation of time be otherwise used for? (And how much are we talking about? On both sides of the equation.)"

Working in business or around the house. Spending time with kids etc. Assume 30min per week per household, week after week, year after year and it adds up. Kind of like the productivity losses of sitting in traffic.

"Resources can be used for more productive purposes.
Such as...?"

How much time and money is spend on recycling? We can use that money to fix our roads, sweep our streets, lower taxes etc etc.

"If recycling is so valuable why is nobody offering to pay me cash for my old newspapers and pop cans?
Clearly we're using a different definition of 'valuable'."

Not sure what your definition of value is but somebody is paying to process all this recycled goods. If there is a market for cans and old newspapers then way is someone not offering to pay me for them, kind of like the "we buy you used gold" folks? They will pay you for your used gold because there is a market for it.

"LOL Well...maybe that's how it looks to you. I'd be curious to see a short film about your life. Your habits, your capabilities..."

I'm blushing.


"Is it any wonder that people are dumping garbage?
No. It's not. These sorts of people are found everywhere, in every city in every culture. They're asshats."

Not sure what an asshat is. In any event, of coarse people dump garbage. The issue is that all the restrictions are causing people to dump MORE garbage
"People aren't dumping garbage because their brains are fried from trying to figure how how to process their garbage. They're dumping because they're asshats. Period."
"Hamilton has many places where we can hide trash.
Thanks for confirming that you're one of those asshats"

Hamilton has many green spaces (conserv areas, escarpment) where few tread and garbage can easily be dumped. Can't you come up with a better reason than "they're asshats".

Since you insulted me I will insult you.
I'm guessing you work at MIT, NASA, or some other high-powered research institute because the analytical zeal you provide to your reply leaves me just short-of breath.

Permalink | Context

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 18:09:07 in reply to Comment 73076

Hamilton has many green spaces (conserv areas, escarpment) where few tread and garbage can easily be dumped.

Really? You really believe that's an option?

If so, I'm surprised you didn't simply suggest we tow it out and sink it in Lake Ontario.

Permalink | Context

By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 14:00:05 in reply to Comment 73076

C'mon Capitalist, seriously?

You can't tell me you don't know that there is obviously a market for recyclables, because that's precisely what Stewardship Ontario does: collects recyclables and sell them to scrappers and companies that reprocess them.

Are you all huffy because the Province collects and re-invests the $$, and no one comes right to your door to cut you a personal cheque for all your hard blue box work?

Permalink | Context

By Wellington Plume (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2012 at 08:06:46 in reply to Comment 73080

It's true. Although the variable supply/demand dynamic can give rise to unintentional surpluses, such as the 400 tonnes of plastic warehoused at Plastimet in the summer of 1997.

Permalink | Context

By Wellington Plume (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2012 at 08:12:49 in reply to Comment 73110

eg:

"The recycling crisis is the latest in a host of financial problems that began earlier this year with a meltdown in the U.S. housing market and banking sector. Now, as people around the world curb their spending, manufacturers react by curtailing production, which means there is less demand for recycled material, leading to a drop in value of recycled goods.

For example, aluminum was selling in the Toronto area in July for $1.17 per pound. Currently it’s selling for 35 cents a pound. Newsprint was selling in the Toronto area in July for $180 per metric ton and actually hit zero at one point this month.

Similarly, the plastic used to make water bottles sold for 19 cents a pound in July, but today is selling for only a cent a pound."


http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1316330&archive=true

Permalink | Context

By it takes less than 10 minutes extra (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 12:54:19 in reply to Comment 73076

Basically you are saying that all of this is for 10 minutes. I really don't buy into any of your excuses that 10 minutes is too much to ask to help save the city millions of taxpayer money

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 11:10:44

I do not understand Council's stand on garbage at all. On a normal week you don't even have to try to meet the 1 bag limit - I am a half assed recycler / green bin user at best, with a family of 4, 2 kids in diapers and a dog - and we would be hard pressed to use more than 1 bag every 2 weeks.

The problem is when I clean out the basement or garage and have a few extra bags and some random junk to get rid of. I find myself stockpiling my junk for weeks at the side of my house until I think I have more than 100 kg.

Unless its garden soil (not supposed to go in the green bin or bags - has to go into the garbage) - a few bins of garden soil ends up costing $50 or more to get rid of - and I have been seriously tempted to just dump it off the side of the escarpment on more than one occasion.

I suspect that the transfer fee structure is the problem. That and the elimination of bulk item pickup.

Comment edited by Simon on 2012-01-16 11:11:25

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Bizarro World (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 13:03:50

Not to worry, adding 12 extra bags per household per year actually improves our diversion rate!

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/655265--talking-trash-at-city-hall

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 14:15:48

Back at the dawn of the blue box program I told my grandfather that he should start putting his cans into a recycling bin rather than into the garbage.

He told me if they didn't want him to put cans into the garbage, then they should stop selling things that come in cans.

Lets not fool ourselves into thinking recycling is the solution to garbage. And I do resent the time I spend sorting my trash as Mr Burns puts it "like a raccoon". I also resent the guilt that comes from years of "education" when I toss a plastic tub of 8 month old yogurt into the garbage.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:11:41 in reply to Comment 73081

I also resent the guilt that comes from years of "education" when I toss a plastic tub of 8 month old yogurt into the garbage.

fist-bump.

Sometimes, there's no way I'm opening that.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 17, 2012 at 11:15:34 in reply to Comment 73115

God knows I've done it too, but I don't 'resent' the guilt that comes with it. I own the guilt because I know I am consciously choosing to do the wrong thing because I'm too lazy/squeamish to take the few extra minutes required to do the right thing. I don't understand the mentality of blaming someone else for making you feel bad when you've knowingly made the less than optimal choice.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-01-17 11:15:56

Permalink | Context

By notperfect (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2012 at 14:19:07 in reply to Comment 73081

We can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good (or the better). Recycling may be the 3rd R but it's better to melt a can down and make another can than to throw it in a landfill.

Permalink | Context

By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 15:08:41 in reply to Comment 73082

Aluminum is a very energy-intensive material. There's no doubt that it's quite valuable in any serious weight (scrounging and selling scrap metals is a major industry in this town). The difference between recycling an aluminum can and producing a fresh one is roughly the equal of filling it with gasoline meaning that you could drive 20+km in most small/medium cars just to recycle that one can and still save energy. So no, this is certainly not pointless.

We need to stop treating garbage collection like some sort of human right. It's an enormous public expense in terms of land, money and resources, the main purpose of which is to re-bury mountains of valuable resources which took far larger amounts of energy to extract. It would be hard to beat this kind of inefficiency without regularly bombing ourselves.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 16, 2012 at 18:09:56 in reply to Comment 73088

Your last paragraph is simply perfect.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:10:35

imho, the big thing the city is missing is a way to pay to go over the limit. Some kind of big stamp or special bag we can buy.

Because after cleaning out the garage or something, the last thing I want to do is take a trip to the dump for 4 or 5 garbage bags.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TreyS (registered) | Posted January 21, 2012 at 23:00:58

I will never green bin. I tried it, got mice, it's gross, my house smelled like maggots whenever I opened the door. Animals tipped over the outside green bin every night for their feeding frenzy, see not everyone has a garage in Hamilton. Perhaps every new home built in Hamilton should be mandated to have a garage for waste storage. Since lefties love regulations, especially against home builders, so lets have a green bin regulation.

The truth is the Green Bin stuff is not the bad stuff for the landfills and the enviro, let it rot in a landfill, if it's good enough to rot in a composter in my yard.

The problem is with the; sofas, TVs, appliances, computers, screen doors, drywall, that's where we are having a problem. What the heck do I do with my microwave oven every 5 years, a light fixture that I replaced, one out of 5 major kitchen appliance goes garbage every 18 months, I bought a new living room set of furniture, this is the crap that fills landfills. Not the leftover Kraft Dinner.

My cat now has become an outside cat. The natural world is his cat box now, I'm saving on cat litter waste already. I should get green points for that. His crap is not going into my garbage anymore it's going onto the neighbourhood lawns and shrubbery. That's green. I'm thinking I might try to save on water flushes too, by doing the same. That's how environmental I am.

I attempted to put my greenbin in my blue box but the recyclers failed to see the humour. They slapped my blue bin with a "Sorry" sticker, apparently the Green Bins are made of non-recyclable plastic... so I drove my SUV to Upper Ottawa and dumped my green bin in the trash, along with left-over siding, closet doors, bins of plastering mud, tree-branches, christmas tree and ornament crap, probably about 1000 lbs of trash. If I left this crap in my house, I guess that would make me green, it's still garbage, whether it's in our garages, basements, along a storm ditch or in the sacred Hamilton landfills. Garbage is still garbage no matter where it is.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TnT (registered) | Posted January 22, 2012 at 10:07:20

Most of the things you described are things that can be recycled for free at the transfer station. Some stuff is trash, but a lot of that stuff is free to drop off if you have a car. The unfairness is to people who don't drive. Some stuff just won't get picked up.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds