Calgary looking to charge for extra garbage pick-up, pass on savings to less wasteful households

Calgary green composting bin
A black cart for garbage collection, blue cart for recycling, and green cart for composting sit in a Calgary alley. . City of Calgary

As a way to motivate citizens to reduce the amount of garbage they put out for collection, a Calgary city hall committee is recommending a tag-a-bag program be implemented by the middle of 2020.

City administration says four per cent of households produce excess waste that result in garbage bags left outside the black cart.

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Despite the low numbers, a “pay as you throw” program will be brought in allowing households to buy a sticker or tag for excess waste to be picked up. The price per extra bag will be $3.

The cost of black cart pick up will drop by 10 cents a month and the costs for the additional collection will be covered by the tag-a-bag fee.

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“Putting a price on how much garbage you put out as a household encourages people to put out less by properly recycling and composting the materials that can go in blue and green carts,” Kate Trajan, leader with the City of Calgary’s Waste & Recycling Services, said.

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City officials said other municipalities with a similar program have not seen a rise in illegal dumping.

Neighbours will be encouraged to work together and share black cart space if they want to avoid the $3 fee.

“Putting garbage in a bin keeps alleyways clean,” Trajan said. “It also keeps our service efficient because it takes more time for a truck to stop, a driver to get out and manually load a bag of garbage.”

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Calgary city council are due to decide on this committee recommendation on April 8.

The utilities and environment committee is also asking for a pilot project to be developed to use RFID technology to calculate how often an individual black cart is emptied. This could lead to a payment program that better reflects how much waste a household throws out.

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“The RFID technology is the holy grail of what we’re looking for,” Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said. “You can actually pay for exactly what you use. You pay for how many times your garbage bin is actually tipped.”