Friday, July 20, 2007
Time For Blue Box?
One of the most active discussions on my Facebook group is about curbside (or Blue Box) recycling. A few have asked if the city has ever thought about it and others chimed in to add their support for the idea.
Right now in Grande Prairie we have a neighbourhood depot system - you take your recycling to the nearest depot. As I understand it we have very good participation rate for this type of system. The cost of running this recycling program is covered by a charge on each Aquatera bill - I think it was $4.87 on my last bill. The down side to this type of system is of course that it requires me collect my own recyclables, hold on to them until they pile up to a point that I remember to finally tote them over to my nearest depot. From there there is a big truck from Recycle Plus* that visits the nine depots across the city and empties the bins.
The next step of course would be to go to a curbside pick up or blue box program where everything is picked up in front of my house on a regular basis. There is a lot of extra labour that goes into a system like this, rather than having one big truck visit the depots, you need to visit every household on a regular schedule. That extra labour makes the system more expensive to operate.
Calgary has just recently decided to move to a curbside pick up system and a lot of the discussion there was about the cost.
"The cost for the carts, trucks and other expenses would be about $50 million, which would eventually be covered by the $8-a-month fee.
Earlier this month, city council considered a proposal for a more expensive curbside-pickup recycling program. The program, which included organic waste pickup, would have cost each residential homeowner about $21 a month."
So, what is the situation in Grande Prairie? We are just nearing the end of our garbage collection contract, which ends at the end of this year - after that we will ask companies to bid on the new contract. At that time we could also choose to ask the companies to bid on providing a blue box program.
When they do it will come with a cost attached and I imagine it will be more than the five bucks a month we pay now. It's an improved service that we don't have now, so if the community decides we want it we'll have to pay for it one way or another. The question then is this: How and how much are we willing to pay?
The first is simply a question of "optics" with really only a choice of two answers: Should the cost be included (you could say "hidden") in residential taxes or should it continue to be a charge on your Aquatera bill? A split of both?
The question of how much we're willing to pay has lots of possible answers, starting at "zero" and going up. I've posted at survey on the right hand side of the blog to provide you feedback. Let me know what you think about a Blue Box program for GP.
*Previously this post had Northern CARE as the depot pick up company, my mistake was corrected by a sharp-eyed reader. Thanks!