New waste measures could increase diversion rate to 75%

By Cecilia Nasmith

Northumberland County manager of environmental and technical services Adam McCue shared glad tidings of innovative waste collection with Cobourg council at this week's committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Changes in the works promise potentially to improve the 40% rate of waste diversion Northumberland County now keeps out of the landfill to 75% and beyond.

Recent changes have taken effect at landfill level, McCue said. These are being rebranded as Community Recycling Centres, offering on-site diversion opportunities, such as the year-round free e-waste and household hazardous waste collections at Brighton and Bewdley that used to be offered only occasionally.

And though they won't accept it at curbside, the CRCs will also accept clean bulk styrofoam in clear plastic bags.

The biggest change takes place in September, when recycling will go from a one- to a three-stream system – a blue box for containers, a gray box for paper and a green bin for food waste.

This is a response not only to changes in world markets, McCue said, but to difficulties with the one-stream system. People include what they think are recyclable materials that actually aren't, or sometimes even blatantly bury non-recyclables in bags along with their recycling.

The gray and blue boxes will be delivered this summer, along with pamphlets outlining how to use them. The green bins will come along in August, and they will take a surprising variety of food waste, including dairy products, bones and meats.

Information on the proper use of these containers was also included in the 2019 county waste calendar, and is being shared with municipal councils and in information booths being set up at public buildings.

They anticipate that the green bins will divert 2,000 to 3,000 tonnes of food waste from landfills annually while the gray and blue boxes will account for 1,000 additional tonnes of recyclables diverted.

And when further plans for the CRCs are complete (such as the potential to accept some waste building materials), that should be another 1,000 tonnes diverted.

Councillor Nicole Beatty asked what will happen to the food waste. McCue said a tender is being put out for the best price to take that material and compost it into fertilizer or compost that can be sold commercially.

Councillor Aaron Burchat relayed complaints he had heard about the containers – that the lack of a lid let the blue-box material get wet or that the green bin was too large to store easily. McCue said any Northumberland resident is welcome to propose an alternate container like a storage bin. If they take it in to the county and it's approved as a receptacle, the county will put a sticker on it and the waste-management workers will collect from it.