City Receives Draft Garbage and Recycling Program Review

A draft report of the Garbage and Recycling Program Review was presented today to members of the City’s Public Safety & Environment Committee.  Consultants from GHD, a leading professional services company in environmental resources engaged in 2016 to perform the review, provided key recommendations coming out a 2016 study that reviewed the City’s collection programs.

The City of Fredericton has been administering the current curbside recycling collection program for the last 16 years, and has managed a leaf & yard waste collection process for the last 25 years.  Despite these continued programs, the City identified key challenges in their collection process such as low diversion rates to the landfill, limited services in place to address diversion from multi-unit residential buildings and a lack of organic waste management plan. 

“Although results indicate that our residents are happy with our current garbage and recycling program, we recognize the importance of continuing to improve our process,” said Coun. Stephen Chase, Chair of the Public Safety & Environment Committee.  “We’re looking forward to reviewing these recommendations and using them to create an action plan to further Fredericton’s efforts to be sustainable. There are certainly some great opportunities for improvement identified in this review.”

Recommendations

The consultant identified recommendations in some of the following key areas.

  1. Develop a Promotion and Education Plan.  A modest increase in diversion can be achieved through greater participation in existing programs. This plan would serve as the basis to improve education and enforcement of existing and future diversion programs to increase capture rates, especially for recyclables.  The plan could include the development and use of brochures and newsletters, posters displayed in key areas of the city, interactive pop-up displays for community events and schools, social media and online presence. 
  2. Phase out drop off recycle depots and replace with a curbside recycling program at multi-unit residential buildings. The current curbside program does not extend to multi-unit residential dwellings with 5 or more units. This is not convenient or effective at capturing recyclables and brings about improper sorting and contamination issues.  The City should consider working with property managers and landlords to implement a program with the goal of ensuring all residents have access to the City’s recycling programs. 
  3. Implement automated curbside collection of garbage.  There is a trend in Canada to move towards cart and automated arm collection systems. Benefits of automated curbside collection of garbage include reduced time in motion, improved driver health and safety, and increased diversion rates.  Other potential curbside changes to collection policies include limiting the number of garbage containers or bags, decreasing collection frequency, or a pay-as-you-throw system or a fee per bag policy. 
  4. Further investigation of a Source Separated Organics (SSO) program. The City currently has no SSO (compost) kitchen waste program. A residential compost program review would need to consider key elements such as collection infrastructure, processing, and cost.  Fredericton Region Solid Waste currently captures landfill gas from organics and other materials placed in the landfill, and generates electricity. An initial review conducted by GHD concluded that the development of a new composting facility, needed for a residential SSO program, will not materially increase the overall carbon offset as compared to the existing gas collection program with FRSW. 

Background and Results

Online and in-person surveys were conducted in October 2016 to identify opportunities and to gauge residents’ views on solid waste management services and potential diversion initiatives, while at the same time looking to identify opportunities for improvements related to efficiency and cost. 

The City’s current diversion rate was calculated to be 19%. This diversion rate is low compared to other Canadian jurisdiction, although it is important to note there is no standard method for calculating diversion across Canada.

Results indicate that recycling is valued among residents and that there is a high interest in seeing improvements to current programs. There is also some support from residents to pay more to improve solid waste programs. 

More detailed results from 844 responses received include:

  • 96% indicated diversion was important to them.
  • 60% said the City’s current recycling programs were well regarded.
  • 62% believed current recycling programs did not keep enough material out of the landfill.
  • Respondents had a high willingness to pay (34%) for additional diversion programs or through shifting priorities (27%), but were divided on imposing garbage limits (44% yes, 42%, no)
  • 51% were in favour of decreasing collection frequency. 

For more information on the review visit the Waste and Recycling Program Review webpage.