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New Edmonton garbage plan includes single-use plastic ban

WATCH ABOVE: A new report is calling for the City of Edmonton to make significant changes to how it handles waste. Fletcher Kent reports.

The City of Edmonton released a new waste management system on Tuesday that’s designed to reverse a trend uncovered in an audit, where just over a third of what Edmontonians produce avoids going into the landfill.

A report going to the Aug. 29 meeting of the utilities committee details a zero-waste strategy that “shifts focus to prevention, reduction and reuse of materials.”

The report calls for the city to bring in a single-use plastics ban for 2021.

“I think the marketplace is already way ahead of government in terms of that question,” Coun. Michael Walters said. “We’re going to get sort of a wall-to-wall inventory of what parts of the market are banning what already.

“Whether we need to do much more by 2021 remains to be seen, but I think it’s wise to go in that direction.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton’s very own single-use plastic ban could mirror federal one

There will be a four-stream collection format that will have homeowners do more sorting before bins and bags go to the curb. The four categories; organics, seasonal yard waste, recycling and residual garbage, will be in place by the end of 2022 while the program is phased in.

Eight-thousand homes have been piloting the system, using green carts for organics which will be picked up every week in the summer, and every other week in the winter.

Bi-weekly pickup of black bins for residual garbage will also come in two sizes (120 litres or 240 litres) with a monthly price difference that is still to be decided.

“We’re going to give residents the options to pick,” said Michael Labrecque, branch manager for Waste Services. “About three months in for the first phase of that, people will have an option to swap out their cart for a smaller cart. If they swap out their cart for a smaller cart then we’re recommending a lower rate.”

The report said the price difference would be in the range of five to six dollars.

Watch below: (From June 2019) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday a ban on single-use plastics to come into effect as early as 2021 in Canada with a list put together grounded in scientific evidence, closely mirroring actions by the European Union, adding that the responsibility will fall on the plastic industry for the appropriate recycling.

Trudeau announces ban on single-use plastics by 2021
Trudeau announces ban on single-use plastics by 2021

The city at one time contemplated going to a blue bin but blue bags will remain in use instead.

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Two other major updates are part of the proposal. Some 27,000 multi-unit customers will eventually pay the same as single-family homes.

The price increase will be phased in over five years, eventually getting apartment and condo owners to the same $47-a-month utility fee.

Labrecque said these households were getting the same kind of pick up service, while still paying the lower level service rate.

All utility rates will go up annually 2.5 per cent, meaning in year two the monthly rate will be $48, then roughly a dollar more each year.

Commercial customers will also have to join the residential customers with recycling and separating programs.

A chart provided by the City of Edmonton.
A chart provided by the City of Edmonton. Supplied by City of Edmonton

The new program will roll out over the next two years and policies will be tweaked before the final program in the fall of 2022. It’ll be reviewed again after five years.

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Part of what will dictate what Edmonton does will be based on the federal ban that was announced in June.

“It would seem that all of what’s being reflected now at the federal level is consistent with this,” Labrecque told reporters.

“There are a lot of jurisdictions that already taking some steps to ban some plastics. We’ve done some research with other jurisdictions to understand what works and what doesn’t work and we’ll do the same things.”

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As part of the single plastics ban, Labrecque said city council will continue to lobby the province to bring in extended producer legislation.

“In theory what it is, if you go to Home Depot, and you buy a new TV the packaging is already paid for. The producer has already paid for the packaging. Other jurisdictions have a means of getting at that cost of packaging and use it to underwrite some of the cost of their (waste reduction) programs.

“So it is a priority for council right now and it’s something that we’ll continue to pursue.”