Garbage bag limits planned for Cornwall

Cornwall Coun. Carilyne Hebert. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The city is moving ahead with the next phase of its plan to reduce the amount of garbage generated by residents.

But you will have plenty of opportunity to weigh in on any changes before they happen.

City council endorsed a plan Monday night to evaluate the next steps in its 20-year Solid Waste Management Master Plan, first drafted in 2011.

Those include a six bag limit for weekly collection through a tag system, mandatory blue box recycling, recycling at special events and open spaces and the elimination of bulk item collection at the curb. There could also be a pilot project for organic and food waste.

Coun. Carilyne Hebert is excited about the next steps and says bag limits are not something new.

“There’s a bag limit in every municipality from the Quebec border to Kingston, other than ourselves and South Glengarry,” Hebert told council. “It’s not necessarily saying ‘Hey, you have to stop making garbage.’ It’s really just to educate people that there are other ways of disposing of your items to recycle better.”

It’s costing the city about $120 per household to run garbage and landfill operations but the city is only picking up about $50 per household through taxes, according to a city report. The rest is covered by tipping fees. Recycling is $60 per household, half of it covered by Ontario grants.

The public consultation on the possible changes won’t happen until fall, which means anything likely wouldn’t happen until 2019.

The Solid Waste Management Plan is trying to increase the landfill diversion rate from 25 per cent to 69 per cent. As of the end of 2013, the diversion rate was 41.8 per cent, and hasn’t made any appreciable movement since that time.

All the changes would save about 1-3 years on the life of the landfill which, right now, has about 18 years of life left. The landfill on Cornwall Centre Road was opened in 1985 and handles about 39,000 metric tons of waste a year.

During last night’s meeting, council also agreed to phase-out the multi-residential waste credit program by 2020. The city had been reimbursing apartment owners who contracted their own private garbage and cycling collection. The program had cost about $90,000 a year.