Mandatory recycling considered for Cornwall

A blue box sits outside a Second Street West home in Cornwall, Ont. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. The city is considering mandatory recycling as it gets set to sign a seven year deal for garbage and recycling collection. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version to correct the awarding of the waste management contract. Environmental 360 Solutions was not the “lowest bid” but was the best proposal meeting specifications. The existing contractor, HGC Management, had the lowest bid but didn’t score the highest after being reviewed by an evaluation committee.

CORNWALL – The city is strongly considering mandatory recycling for all homes and businesses.

The idea is contained in a staff report for Cornwall City Council Monday night (Jan. 14) as the city discusses signing a seven year garbage and recycling deal. It’s current contract expires at the end of March. The new deal would carry through 2026.

How would it work? Your trash wouldn’t be picked up unless your blue box was out at the curb.

“Garbage that is placed out at the curb at homes without a recycling box or bag would not be collected if this initiative were implemented under this program,” Waste Manager Supervisor Danielle Watson writes.

It cost roughly $2.5 million last year for garbage and recycling operations.

Cornwall’s Solid Waste Management Master Plan had set a diversion target of 60 per cent by 2011 but that “has stagnated” at 30 per cent and hasn’t moved much since that time, according to Watson’s report. The city’s waste management department is considering these stronger tactics to get more people to recycle and keep more trash out of the dump.

Also in the changes is a six garbage bag or three container per week limit for homes (there would be two so-called amnesty days a year for unlimited bags), one 95 gallon garbage cart limit for every two multi-residential units, mandatory use of recycling carts for multi-residential, commercial and industrial properties and no more bulky waste pickup.

“That means items such as couches, tables, chairs, and other items not fitting in a bag or containers shall not be collected,” Watson writes.

The new contractor would use split-back trucks that can pick up both trash and recycling at the same time. That means fewer trucks on city streets.

The changes are based on staff doing drive-by and online surveying of what people put at the curb in 2018. The majority of residents are putting out three or fewer garbage bags every week and they regularly recycle.

Based on the proposals from contractors it’s already received, the city expects to save about $535,000 over seven years ($76,430 a year) by putting the changes in place.

If council goes for all the changes, they would be in place by April 1, except for mandatory recycling. That would start July 1.

Last year, the city recycled 12,581 metric tons of garbage and 3,090 metric tons of recycling.

At its current rate, Watson believes the city will run out of landfill space in 11 years (2030). It would cost $50 million to get a new dump location and about 10-12 years to get it approved by the provincial government.

Cornwall and South Glengarry are the last two Eastern Ontario municipalities with no garbage bag limits. Cornwall is “unique” as it’s the only medium-sized city in Ontario to still pick up large items and bulk waste at the curb, according to the report.

The tender with all the changes noted above, is also expected to be approved at Monday’s meeting.

Environmental 360 Solutions of Pickering, Ont. had the best proposal meeting specifications at just over $24 million, even though it was not the lowest bid. There were two bidders for the contract. HGC Management’s bid was almost $154,000 lower.

Monday’s council meeting starts at 7 p.m.