Saskatoon committee to debate size of garbage carts for new pay-as-you-go system

City councilors will discuss upcoming changes to garbage collection at an environment committee meeting on Tuesday.

Starting in 2024, the city will transition to a variable garbage cart utility system, where households can choose from more than one size of cart and pay more or less accordingly. As part of the change, ratepayers will pay for garbage through a separate utility bill, rather than through property taxes.

“It gives residents more variability and more options to meet their waste disposal needs,” said Brock Storey, acting director of water and waste stream at the City of Saskatoon.

“The interest of the garbage service is that residents have transparency on the costs of their garbage.”

At the meeting, advisors will be asked to choose between two distinct options for the sizes of carts to be offered – three sizes (the 360L carts currently in use, 240L and 180L) or two sizes (360L and 240L). L).

The administration recommends the three-cart option and estimates the program will cost $4.5 million. Storey said the cost would include purchasing new, smaller bins and modifying garbage trucks to pick them up.

Storey said it was too early to tell how much each cart would cost owners each month. However, during discussions about the new system held last year, the city estimated that an average household would pay $24.05 per month — including organics pickup — under the new system.

The new program is expected to divert 5,000 to 16,000 tonnes of waste from landfill, improving the overall waste diversion rate by 5 to 17%.

The city also estimates that the program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,000 to 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Talking trash can

Some board members believe the new policy could be improved.

Ward 1 County Darren Hill has long been an opponent of the variable basket policy, advocating other changes to the garbage collection system.

He said the projected cost of the program is too high compared to the amount of waste the project is expected to divert from landfill.

“That’s a huge amount of money for a waste management service that has been underfunded for several years,” he said.

“We have to be very careful what we are going to impose on the citizens of Saskatoon.”

Hill would prefer either a bag-and-tag system, where individual bags of garbage are thrown into garbage trucks and counted, or a system where people are charged by the weight of garbage in their cart.

The city report rules out either approach.

The city said the bag and tag system would cost even more and require additional staff to physically pick up the bags and put them on the trucks.

Meanwhile, weighing garbage would be problematic, as it would be too easy for people to put garbage in someone else’s bin, resulting in the wrong person being billed.

Hill said he’s worried the carts’ variable-size plan isn’t doing very well in minimizing waste heading to the landfill.

“I think it’s going to take a lot of education before the 5% diversion rate they expect is close.”

If approved, the decision will have to be ratified at the next city council.