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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  1. Mark December 27, 2011
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