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Green bin program rollout delayed again in London, this time due to supply chain issues

Zoran Milich via Getty Images

The rollout of London’s long-awaited green bin program has been pushed back again at least a year, this time as a result of supply chain issues which have delayed the delivery of necessary collection trucks, a staff report going before a city committee next week states.

According to the report, set to be presented during Tuesday’s meeting of the Civic Works Committee, 26 collection trucks ordered for partial delivery this fall are not expected to arrive in London until next spring or later, pushing back the program’s implementation until at least July 2023.

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The delivery delays are being blamed on parts shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, raw material deficiencies, labour pressures, and other factors which have resulted in production delays, the loss of hundreds of manufacturing build slots, and a truck order backlog, the report says.

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Thirteen of the 26 split-compartment trucks, which can collect both garbage and organic material, aren’t expected to arrive until April of 2023, while the delivery schedule of the remaining 13 won’t be known until this September.

As a result, the city says it won’t have enough trucks to put the program into gear until mid-next year, though the city notes that even that timeline is tentative.

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“For the program to launch and be city-wide, we need in the order of 26 to 30 vehicles,” said Jay Stanford, director of climate change, environment and waste management at the city.

Should no further problems arise, he says the city could have enough vehicles by July 2023 to begin moving out across the city in phases, a process that may take until October.

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“I hope people understand that (while) it’s frustrating for them, it is also frustrating for the City of London as we’re trying to prepare our program and all the good things that come with it, not only from a waste management perspective, but from a climate change perspective,” Stanford said.

“Keeping organics out of the landfill site is a very important priority for the City of London. So these delays are frustrating, but unfortunately out of our control.”

The delay of the green bin program also delays the city’s plans to reduce the number of garbage collection zones in the city from six to five — a required change, the city says, to provide weekly green bin, weekly blue box, and biweekly garbage pickup.

Read more: November 2020: City green bin program delayed in London, Ont.

It’s not the first time the green bin program has been delayed. The program was originally slated to begin in the fall of 2021, but was pushed back to this year as a result of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the program finally does get off the ground, London will join more than a dozen other municipalities in Ontario who already have green bin programs in place, including Toronto whose launched in 2002.

Currently, London and Windsor are the two largest municipalities in the province without such a program, Stanford says, noting the border city is also moving to implement one.

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FILE – Peter Kell and Curtis Wilson sort bins in Etobicoke for distribution in September 2002. Photo by Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images

“I think it’s been an item that has been discussed at committee and council, I would say, for at least 15 years now … Large projects of this scale do take some time. Yes, it’s taken much longer in London than it has in some other cities,” he said.

“I look at that as though that there are other environmental priorities that are of equal importance or perhaps other priorities were just of higher priority for council. Programs like this, unfortunately, do cost a fair bit of money and careful consideration must be required because it’s about taxpayer dollars.”

It’s estimated that the green bin program alone will cost roughly $3.6 million every year, a figure that rises to $5 million when factoring in all of the changes that will be made to the city’s waste collection system, such as increased recycling collection, he said.

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The city is still in the process of costing and determining what materials will be collected as part of the green bin program. An online survey by the city last year found large support for the collection of food waste, soiled paper and household plants. Sixty-three per cent indicated they wanted cooking oils and grease collected as well, while 45 per cent wanted pet waste included.

Read more: February 2020: Green bin program earns committee endorsement from London councillors

Although the green bin program is an important solution for keeping food waste out of the city’s rapidly expanding landfill, Stanford encourages Londoners to think about the ways they could reduce the amount of food waste they generate at home.

“Whether you have a green bin program in place or not, the food waste component represents about 30 to 35 per cent of the stuff that people generate,” that ends up at the curb, he said.

“So as we move forward with the green bin in London, we also really want to encourage Londoners not to use it as a place just to put something and feel good about it. Your first order of business should be reducing food waste. It’s better for the environment. It helps reduce climate change. It’s better for your pocketbook.”

Londoners can purchase at-home composters and digesters for $20 per unit through the city’s EnviroDepots.

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