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Best of 2011: One Bag Per Household Limit

In an effort to curb the city’s waste by 65%, we’ve seen the introduction of an organic recycling program, an expanded list of acceptable blue box materials and now a one bag per household limit. Thankfully Kingston has moved away from talking about forcing people to use clear garbage bags, which would have resulting in the creation of a Garbage Police Force (GPF), who would have been responsible for inspecting your trash to ensure you’re recycling properly. Jokes aside, our readers overwhelmingly support the one bag per household initiative.

One Bag Per Household Limit

Garbage BagIn March 2009, after approximately one year of anticipation, Kingstonian’s began to receive green bins as a part of the city-wide organic recycling program. Council initially projected that these environmentally friendly vessels would help reduce household waste by as much as 65 percent, thereby slowing the long-term exhaustion of available landfills. Since then, our household has rarely missed a week of filling our green bin, while we’ve noticed a drastic reduction in the number of garbage bags we place at the curb. In fact, we’ve gone upwards of four weeks without having to put a single bag of trash out for curbside collection. Nevertheless, a quick glance around my neighbourhood hints that not everyone is regularly using their green bin, and so we have a ways to go before we reach the lofty goal of 65 percent waste reduction. In an effort to help us get there, and encourage the use of our trusty green, blue and grey bins, the City of Kingston is moving towards a weekly limit of one bag of trash per household. Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:

Do you support the one bag per household initiative?

  • Yes. One bag/week is doable. (62%, 93 Votes)
  • No. One bag/week is unreasonable. (21%, 32 Votes)
  • Sure. It will help us get greener. (15%, 23 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 150

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Passed by a narrow margin of 6 to 7 on November 1st, Council’s amendments to the solid waste by-law are as follows:

  1. properties offered access to the green bin program be limited to one container, bag and/or bundle of garbage per self-contained residential unit per week without bag tags;
  2. two bags of garbage without tags be allowed on the first collection day following New Years Day, Victoria Day and Labour Day;
  3. residents with medical conditions that result in the generation of extra garbage be provided with 52 bag tags subject to a letter advising of the need from their medical practitioner being approved annually by the Solid Waste Manager; and
  4. staff be directed to promote “Giveaway Days” when residents are encouraged to place reusable items at the curb for others to take at no cost.

With consideration to the forthcoming changes outlined above, Council moved away from previous proposals to force Kingstonians to use clear garbage bags, as a means for waste collectors to police whether or not recyclables were being mixed in with trash. However, city staff is now considering another recognition program that would reward households with a gold star for consistently and appropriately managing their recycling and waste. Can you imagine being the only one on your block without a gold star?

What are your thoughts on weekly limits on the number of garbage bags per household. Do you think that these measures will make a difference and help us reach a 65% reduction, or will they result in an increase in illegal dumping? Otherwise, should we consider going one step further, following the example of cities such as Ottawa, who are moving to biweekly trash collection and expand acceptable materials in our green bins?

Thanks to ceegee-ceegee for today’s trashy 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 “Best of 2011: One Bag Per Household Limit

  • December 27, 2011 at 10:43 am
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    I fully support waste management programs where they make economic sense. And I don't mean just Dollars & Cents economics.

    There is no long-term exhaustion of available landfills. The garbage produced by North Americans fits on a proverbial head of a pin relative to available space.

    1-bag is not an effort to help us, it is an effort to force us. Efforts to help us would make it easier/simpler for us to recycle, easy to manage our outgoing waste. E.g., we now accept all recyclable plastics, not just certain types. That helps us, because we know any recyclable plastic can be recycled. It makes sifting and sorting easier.

    "Your readers" supporting the 1-bag limit means nothing if we don't know who your readers are. Maybe your readers are all 1-bag supporters! Oh, right … Also telling is the results of your poll vs. the Council vote results. Either your poll doesn't represent Kingston, or Council doesn't represent Kingston.

    "We're not going to do the Garbage Cops thing, so we're just going to do this other thing instead, 'K? You see how we put Kingstonians first?" Scare tactic.

    Yes, I can imagine being the only person on my block without a gold star. Indeed, nothing would make me more proud than to *not* receive a gold star from the City. I actually graduated from Kindergarten. Put your (our) money where your mouth is and offer cash reward recognition.

    Raising taxes and user fees … now that's Government!

    • January 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm
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      "Put your (our) money where your mouth is and offer cash reward recognition."_In other words, you want to be bribed to stop throwing stuff in the trash.

  • December 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm
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    I fully support reducing our waste and human impact on the environment, but can't help but rankle at the continuing decline in services while my taxes continue to climb. Something is simply not adding up.

  • January 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm
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    First off, its not a "one bag limit". It's one bag free. Many municipalities, Quinte West for example, have charged a fee for EVERY bag for years. _I doubt that its that much more effective actually (no idea what the numbers are) but it's sure a lot simpler – you wanna put a bag out, put a tag on it.__Your choice to throw it out instead of diverting it after all. Pretty simple.

  • January 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm
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    I'm surprised this is even a question. Garbage creators should be responsible for the waste they produce. I'm mindful of what is purchased for our house in terms of the waste that it generates, we aim to produce as little garbage as possible. Why? Same reason I don't ask someone else to clean my house or wipe my behind… I take responsibility for myself and the impact I make on the world.

  • January 9, 2012 at 10:05 am
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    Wow, Spoken like a bunch of left wing hippies. You people have no idea what your impact on the world is. Go travel to some foreign land and see how the real world lives (not some posh hotel either) and maybe we will have less of these dumb rules and regulations and we can get on with living. Do you honestly think anyone else but yourself gives a Sh** about Kingston being the greenest city… Really, people are dying just trying to get to school or finding enough food to feed their family one meal a day in some places and you high and mighty idiots are worried about one bag of garbage and whether I recycle…. Get real

  • January 10, 2012 at 10:51 am
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    I agree with Paul here. I also fully support waste reduction and recycling programs. They make both economic and environmental sense. Continually, however, our tax dollars are being realized for fewer and fewer tangible services. To be sure, there are more recreation centres etc., but user fees make these inaccessible to much of the city's working classes. Essentially, we need more services for the tax dollars already being collected, not less. If the city plans to do something new with the tax dollars that they save, great, but chances are they will not.

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