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25% of waste in Saskatoon’s multi-unit recycle bins is garbage

Watch above: The amount of garbage being picked up in Cosmopolitan Industries recycling bins from multi-unit dwellings is high. As Wendy Winiewski tells us, the program suffered a rocky rollout and continues to plague officials.

SASKATOON – Cosmopolitan Industries picks up about 50 tonnes of recyclables from Saskatoon apartments and condominiums each week. 12 tonnes of it is garbage.

“We’re getting things like bags of diapers,” said Cosmo spokesperson Ken Gryschuk.

The 25 per cent contamination rate is significantly higher than the five per cent contamination rate coming from single family homes.

According to Brenda Wallace, the city’s environmental services manager, confusion may be arising from the multitude of brown, black, and red bins already located at most multi-unit dwellings.

“That simple message is harder to convey to residents so we’ll have to be more creative in making sure people understand to look for the blue ‘Recycle with Cosmo’ container,” said Wallace.

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Residents are also bagging the items, creating additional work back at the sorting facility.

READ MORE: Saskatoon rate of recycling low despite education program

The multi-unit recycling program began rolling out in October and 87 per cent of dwellings are already part of the program. Wallace credits Cosmo’s efficiency in roll out and locating a spot for all of the bins.

The remaining 13 per cent of multi-units already had individual contracts with recycling companies. They have until spring to end those contracts and join Cosmo’s city wide recycling program. At completion, 37,000 units will be part of the contract.

Cosmo is also working to develop a pick-up frequency schedule after bins began overflowing when the program launched. Gryschuk said adjustments have been made.

“If some property is very good at recycling, instead of picking it up every second week, we’ll move it up to every week or even twice a week,” said Gryschuk.

The issue of who pays for the program remains. The contract is worth $2.2 million per year.

Residents pay $2.51 per month, which covers about half of the cost. The remainder was supposed to be covered by funding through the provincial government, but recent changes have made the funding unpredictable – a rough start for a new program.

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If the provincial funding doesn’t come through, the city will have to find another way to cover the gap. There are three options: a tax increase, a utility rate increase, or a combination of the two.

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