Tag-a-bag program for black carts to start in June, pending Calgary council approval

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WATCH: Calgary city councilors did some “trash talk” over the city’s new tag-a-bag program. As Adam MacVicar reports, the plan is expected to curb waste habits with an extra cost.

A pay-as-you-throw program aimed at curbing residents’ waste habits will kick off in June, pending final approval from Calgary city councillors.

The tag-a-bag program would charge residents $3 for each bag left out for collection that doesn’t fit in their black cart.

“It’s about usage, and as usage increases, costs increase,” Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland said Wednesday. “So it’s about conserving and doing the right thing.”

City waste and recycling officials said they are working with Calgary Transit to make the tags available where transit tickets are sold. Deals are also being worked out to have the tags sold at convenience and grocery stores.

According to the city, the tags will also be available through the Calgary Transit e-store and will be available for purchase in May.

“If you have to buy one of these tags in order to dispose of extra garbage that doesn’t fit in your black cart, you’re going to think a little bit more about what you’re producing for garbage. And are you using your three-cart system properly?” waste and recycling services program management leader Sharon Howland said.

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Howland said about four per cent of Calgarians set out extra garbage to get picked up, and the city will monitor the number of tags being purchased as well as waste volume to determine if the program is having an impact on people’s waste habits.

READ MORE: Calgary considering ‘pay as you throw’ black bin collection

However, Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas has concerns with potential additional costs and illegal dumping.

“I had an open mind to it. I pledged to take a look at it but my read of it at this point is that it seems like it adds a lot of complication and a lot of potential for additional costs,” Farkas said. “It could lead to people using less waste, but at the end of the day, looking at some other jurisdictions, it’s actually led people to be a little more creative in ways to get around it, in terms of illegal dumping and putting more garbage in your neighbour’s bin.”

According to the city, there are penalties around $250 being brought in to deter people from dumping their garbage into their neighbour’s bins without consent, but city officials said fines will be the last resort as they rely on education and public awareness to curb the issue.

Last spring, council voted 10-4 to proceed with the tag-a-bag program.

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Black cart collection is expected to drop by $0.10 a month with additional pickup costs covered by the initiative.

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

According to Howland, the tag-a-bag program is the first step toward implementing a user-pay system for Calgary’s black carts.

Ward 14 Coun. Peter Demong said he is not in favour of the tag-a-bag program but is in support of a user-pay system for garbage pickup.

“I’m not in favour of charging large families or large households extra, but it is very much like water,” Demong said. “If you use more water, you should probably pay more. It’s a pay-per-use service.”

Early last year, council voted to approve a pilot project using RFID technology that could base what you pay on how often your black cart is emptied.

The amended bylaw to allow for the tag-a-bag program will be discussed and voted on sometime next week.

– With files from Global News’ Aurelio Perri and Kaylen Small