During last week's Committee of the Whole meeting, Town Council discussed the idea of adding recycling bins to the Town's waste pickup program. Currently, the program picks up green compost bins and black garbage bins, but could potentially add blue recycling bins and yellow Paper Products and Packaging (PPP) recycling bins.

Utility Strategist Colleen Parken explained yellow bins may be the only ones worth implementing, as blue bins may not be cost-effective.

"When we look at the volumes for paper products and packaging per year, we can see this is a large volume of materials. As restrictions continue to be put in place on plastics we foresee this volume to trend upwards. Paper products are typically the recycling materials which have the best market and can even be cost-neutral at times. Plastics, metals, glass, however, are items that have limited markets and therefore are a cost to the town to provide those services," Parkin said.

PPP chartThe volumes of PPP Parkin referenced in the above quote

This is only a proposal and has not seen significant Town discussion yet, but the project schedule for yellow bins dictates July 5 as the deadline for submission of proposals. Should council agree to move forward with yellow bins, the service is scheduled to begin January 1, 2024.

Given that discussion and a full analysis has not happened regarding yellow bins, specifics as to how much this would cost and what exactly the program would look like are still unknown. This includes potentially having a third party undertake the program or have the Town do it as a possible source of revenue. As far as the additional cost and efficiency of an additional bin, at the moment it's believed implementing these new bins would be a good move.

"I think the efficiencies that we see with the cart systems and the ability to go through a large portion of the town in one day with one or two trucks, I think the savings we see there are quite significant. My understanding in conversation with WM (Waste Management) is those efficiencies are well worth it," Manager of Infrastructure Ethan Wilson said.

Councilor Jason Montgomery raised a potential concern beyond the financial viability of a new bin, as he asked whether or not this would be a good move from an environmental and carbon emissions perspective. Montgomery said it's important to look beyond just the revenue and think about if the carbon emissions that come from driving the trucks and recycling paper products are better or more harmful to the environment. Wilson believes creating more accessibility for recycling will ultimately benefit the environment.

"If the opportunity is there for people to recycle these materials, we think we'll see an increase in volumes of paper products, so does that increase in recycled volumes offset the additional environmental concerns from that additional pickup. I think that's something we can definitely look at," Wilson said.

The Town's current contract with Waste Management ends at the end of 2023.

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to news@strathmorenow.com