Homeowners with excess yard waste in the fall will be pleased to hear that city hall plans to extend weekly garbage pickup into October.
During the 2022 budget discussions, city council voted 6-1 to move October waste collection to weekly from biweekly pickup for an extra municipal expense of $22,013 per year. Households will pay $9.99 per month for this extended garbage pickup, an increase of 22 cents.
Coun. Kim Robinson was opposed.
The municipality currently runs garbage pickup biweekly and increases that to weekly in June, July, August and September. Meanwhile, curbside recycling collection occurs biweekly throughout the year.
City hall sees higher landfill use in May and October, but this is because consumer habits have shifted from preserving and reusing items to throwing away single-use products made of cheap materials, said Darrin Stephanson, director of public works.
These habits create challenges for municipalities attempting to manage residential waste, he continued. Based on information from Statistics Canada from 2018, Saskatchewan had the second-worst waste generation per capita in Canada after Quebec.
In Moose Jaw, data for 2020 show 8,222,429 kilograms of residential waste went to the landfill while city hall diverted 1,353,060 kilograms of recycling from the landfill. However, 1,022,455 kilograms of recycling still went into the landfill, while 901,140 kilograms of other divertible materials went to the landfill.
“This shows that nearly two million kilograms of material sent to the landfill by homeowners can be diverted through existing recycling and diversion programs available in the city,” said Stephanson. “Even more alarming is that improper disposal of these materials increases by 70.6 per cent when the waste collection schedule switches to weekly from biweekly.”
City hall offered two free yard waste weekends this fall, which saw 476 residents — four per cent of all residential waste collection customers — use the programs, he continued. Council also waived fees for a second waste bin in October, but city hall received only four requests for this service.
“What the data is telling us,” Stephanson added, “is (that) better waste management is needed from citizens and not enhanced collection.”
“It’s really great to see these statistics and numbers because it tells a deeper dive of what people are actually doing out there,” said Coun. Crystal Froese, who wondered if recycling pickup could move to weekly to encourage better habits.
City hall would have to speak with its provider about that since it’s not part of the contract, said Stephanson. However, it’s probably not worth it since recycling bins are not full now and city hall does not receive requests for second blue bins.
Residents can also use the bulk recycling bins near the city yards on High Street West.
Residents usually ask in autumn for the continuation of weekly garbage pickup, especially people who live in the avenues and have mature trees that don’t shed leaves until October or November, said Coun. Dawn Luhning. While free yard waste weekends are great for people with vehicles, not everyone can haul waste to the landfill.
Garbage pickup and snow removal are the two issues residents complain about the most, she continued. Waste collection is a no-win situation because while she wants weekly pickup in October, she doesn’t want more costs for residents.
Coun. Doug Blanc has heard many complaints about the need for weekly pickup in October. He pointed to statistics that show the average household produces 56.1 kilograms of waste in October compared to 43.6 kgs in September.
Blanc added that residents need to be better educated about what goes into recycling bins and what can be diverted from the landfill.