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Calgary committee endorses uniform pickup of black bins despite usage

A City of Calgary garbage truck picks up a black bin in this undated photo. Global News

Calgarians will not see changes to the black cart program for households who create less garbage.

City officials told the city’s community development committee the costs of implementing a variable set-out program would outweigh the savings.

The previous city council approved a tag-a-bag program, charging for extra garbage that didn’t fit in a black bin during its weekly pickup. And that council also wanted to explore how to accommodate households who didn’t fill up their bins every other week.

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On Thursday, city officials said implementing a program that charged for occasional black bin pick up – also known as “variable set-out” – would end up costing the city more.

Piloting such a program was estimated to cost $4 million, with city-wide implementation pegged at $5.5 million. Annual costs for the proposed program would increase black cart collection costs by $1.7 million a year.

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Officials also told the committee the variable set-out could create billing errors with current technology like RFID.

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“Given the best-case data accuracy on collection data is 95 per cent (i.e., five per cent error rate), it is estimated that approximately 30,000 household bills could contain errors each month, resulting in customer complaints and calls,” a report reads.

The recommendation was to keep with the existing, low-cost program as it is, despite the estimated monthly increase of $0.50 per household if the variable set-out option was pursued.

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“What we hear continually, over and over, and what the data says is that 96 per cent of users for our waste and recycling system are really compliant in putting materials in the right places, and that the frequency of pickup is meeting Calgarians needs,” committee chair Kourtney Penner said.

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The committee unanimously endorsed the recommendation to not enact variable set-outs.

City council is expected to address the item in its December meeting.

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