Achieving One-Bag Per Household in Kingston

One Bag Per Household, Kingston, OntarioStarting the week of September 10th, local households will only be permitted to place one bag of garbage out for curbside pickup (exceptionally two bags are allowed immediately following New Year’s Day, Victoria Day and Labour Day).  Each additional bag will require a $2 bag tag, which you can conveniently purchase online via the City of Kingston.  The mildly controversial one bag per household limit was implemented to assist the Limestone City in realizing its goal of diverting 65 percent of residential waste from the landfill. In recent years, the expanded plastic recycling program as well as the introduction of organic waste collection have enabled Kingston to divert an estimated 55 percent of material from the landfill.  Ultimately, the goal of these sustainable measures is to delay the costly exhaustion of available landfill space, and encourage maximum participation in the City’s environmentally conscious recycling efforts.

While a majority of our readers support the one bag per household measure, we are undoubtedly going to experience a few growing pains in the months to come by way of dealing with an expected increase in illegal dumping, and changing our respective habits.  Accordingly this week’s poll asks:

How will your household get to one garbage bag per week?

  • We're already at one bag per week. (71%, 132 Votes)
  • We won't/can't. $2 bag tags it is. (21%, 39 Votes)
  • We'll start using our green bin. (4%, 8 Votes)
  • More use of blue/grey/green bins. (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Smarter in-store purchases. (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 187

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On average, our household of two humans and one cat generate one bag of garbage every two to three weeks.  However, there are the odd times throughout the year where household renovations, etc… require us to use more than the standard solo bag.  Under the new scheme, my plan is to store those extra bags in the garage, and haul them out to the curb on one of our down weeks.  I honestly can’t image paying $2 extra just to get rid of all of our garbage at once.  Kingstonians who are living in apartment buildings and residing in households with greater numbers (ie larger families, students homes) will undoubtedly be faced with the burdensome chore and additional cost associated with disposing of more than one trash bag per week.  While the new normal will disagree with some people, I believe that it makes sense in that those who require more waste disposal should foot the bill.  Why should the rest of us collectively pay more to accommodate those who are not making the most of recycling programs that are already costing us money?

Thanks to tobyleah for today’s photo.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

7 thoughts on “Achieving One-Bag Per Household in Kingston

  • August 27, 2012 at 12:13 pm
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    Why should the rest of us collectively pay more? Because that's the way society works. City Council didn't pass this because it's unfair and to shift the burden – they passed it supposedly to achieve sustainable goals. If they really wanted to achieve those goals, they'd be coming up with creative ways to educate Kingstonians rather than punishing them.

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    • August 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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      Sure, we all pay into the collective pot so that we have things like health care, access to education, snow removal and so on. In a sense garbage collection is really no different, but when people are not pulling their weight, why should the rest of us pay more so that folks can be wasteful? Saying "that's just the way it works" is no longer acceptable.

      Unfortunately, too many people in this city don't make use of their recycling bins. Sure, some of it has to do with education, but there are many who simply cannot be bothered. The one bag per household approach is more carrot than stick, but it does not stop people from putting out more than one bag. Instead, it sends a clear message that one bag is usually enough if you're using all the other recycling tools the City has provided/you already pay for. You want more, you pay more.

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      • August 30, 2012 at 8:31 am
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        You're also paying for recycling and compost pick up. Wherever the waste is going, you're paying for it. This just punishes who can't reduce waste and doesn't address who is at fault e.g. landlords who refuse to support alternate waste programs.

        To Ben below, you can't just assume levels of education. Each city does recycling differently, and so there needs to be a lot more education on proper recycling for newcomers and students. Composting is also fairly new. Beyond this, the City needs to pick up their advertising of this one bag limit – the most awareness is coming from private citizens. If they can't even get people aware of this change, then I'd say their efforts at educating on waste reduction are pretty minimal.

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        • September 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm
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          Hmm – you are probably right. I'm ignorant about how landlords may be at fault. Are they not required to support alternate programs?

          You are also right about making assumptions on levels of education. I was thinking of a few specific people who are just too lazy to separate waste – for these people the stick of an extra charge may be a good thing (or they may just decide $2 is a fair charge for not doing the 5 minutes of sorting).

          Regarding the City's education program – you are right. I only heard about their garbage proposal through this website (although I have been out of town for much of this summer).

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      • September 5, 2012 at 7:09 pm
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        I'd agree, If they lower the rate we already pay but they're not.

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  • August 28, 2012 at 10:22 am
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    I'd like to expand on some of Mr. Kirkpatrick's comments: Through our taxes the City provides us with a number of opportunities to get rid of our waste. We already pay for recycling, compost and garbage pickup and by voting in our municipal government we have agreed to this system. This system is a mix of environmental sustainability and financial best bang for our buck. There is a lot of room for improvement, but as it is it demonstrates a nice balance of often competing philosophies – environmental vs. short-term economic gain. Adding a $2 charge for additional bags of garbage is in line with this approach. It encourages people to use the compost and recycling programs (which, again, they are already paying for through taxes) and it reflects the increased cost to the City (and us) in dealing with the trash of people who create more than has been budgeted for. The only possible downside is that some people may prefer to pay the surcharge, rather than to separate the organic waste, recyclables and trash – so, it will all go to the landfill, rather than being re-used in a beneficial way.
    Regarding educating people – recycling has been around for quite a long time now. It's hard to believe that people don't know about it. However, there is always room for programs that remind people of the benefits of sending as little waste as possible to the landfill. I suspect the surcharge is part of this process.

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  • September 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm
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    I'm not sure how it works for most apartment buildings but for my condo apartment, the City of Kingston refuses to support Green Bins at this time. Our garbage would be reduced drastically if we were allowed to use the green bins but this is not even an option.

    My condo already has difficulty with illegal dumping from the neighbourhood (household items, garbage etc). Although I fully support the 1 bag per household rule, I definitely think this will increase the amount of illegal dumping that happens, which ultimately I have to pay for with increased condo fees as it costs money to dispose of these items.

    Reply

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