June 24th, 2024

Council seeking answers on green bin cost factors

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on January 19, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

City council has asked administration to provide a report to the Economic Standing Policy Committee at its April 13 meeting on several matters involving the curbside organics program.
Council wants to know answers to three questions:
1) What would be the cost (capital and operational) to modify the existing regional sites that would enable residents the opportunity to drop off waste material meant to be diverted through the green bin program?
2) Of the funds already spent in furtherance of the curbside green bin program, what portion of those funds (or capital investment already made) could be utilized or repurposed to allow for green bin waste diversion to occur through the regional sites?
3) What impact, financial or otherwise, would there be to the City if the currently approved curbside green bin program were to be removed from the CIP?
Total cost of the pilot project is listed at $10,629,000 with funding being divided between two grant programs. Neither the Municipal Sustainability Initiative fund nor the Federal Gas Tax Fund requires the grants to be dedicated or limited to a green bin or any other waste diversion fund.
The motion was brought by acting mayor Rajko Dodic who said in a response to a question from councillor John Middleton-Hope that he wanted “to simply to see if the road that we are headed right now in terms of green waste diversion could possibly be modified to allow for voluntary green waste diversion at the regional sites.”
Dodic said “the main thing is trying to see if there’s any way to turn this into a voluntary green waste diversion.
“That’s the real reason and what would be the financial implications if that horse that’s halfway out the barn is stopped at this point,” he said.
Middleton-Hope asked if $10.1 million of $10.6 million has been spent, has the city lost the funds or will they be repurposed?
Dodic responded by saying “the green bin program, the bins that are going to be used are the same size as the smaller black bins. So the trucks that will be picking them up will be trucks that can be repurposed for picking other waste. You’re still going to need a facility to handle the green waste.
“Mainly what I’m trying to avoid or potentially avoid, is the imposed mandatory cost on every citizen which impacts the $3 million operating cost that starts in 2023, goes up to $4 million in 2031. That’s the real main issue. But I do think that most of the capital costs, depending on what the responses are, can be repurposed.”
Council was told diversion of recyclable materials from the landfill has increased by more than 200 per cent since the blue bin program started with 6,000 tons collected in 2020-21.
Dodic added before council voted that “before everyone starts saying how marvellous the blue bin program was, if you go back and look statistically at it, the blue bin which everyone has to pay for, actually dealt with recycling material that ended up in the waste site. There was residential material which made up only 25 per cent of potential recycling that ended up at the waste site. Seventy-five per cent of it was commercial/industrial, institutional so this resolution is to at least revisit an issue and perhaps address a problem that may or may not exist.”

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seems the uninformed vocal minority is at it as usual. We are way behind as a City. Green bins divert organic waste from the landfill that does not degrade and produces GHG, while adding costs for landfill development. Instead we could reduce total costs, produce useful compost or methane from anaerobic digestion. I’m all for green bins!