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!


Anonymous said...

I like the system we have now with a suggested 3rd option. If you want curbside pickup for recyclables you pay for it just like extra garbage bag tags.

A user pay service.


Anonymous said...

I think it's at least worth getting some bids back.
Of course it's going to cost more, that's not unexpected, but if there's a competitive bid process that might give a better idea of the total cost.
GP is in a tougher spot in that you would have to find out how many companies are capable of taking on such a large scale operation? Are there enough recycling facilities to even handle a city-wide program. If recycling waste has to be shipped to Edmonton it kind of defeats the purpose in one sense...

Anonymous said...

I agree, some families do recycling weekly and would have no reason for such a service, and if you want to recycle, just go to a depot and dump off your recyclables, its that simple.

Anonymous said...

I would be most likely to agree with Cyril on this matter. I have someone who picks up my recycling for a nominal fee and he gets the money from the returnables. It work well form us both. Most people with a vehicle can recycle themselves but there needs to be an option for those who donot so a pay as you go is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

We recycle regularly and I must admit part of the reason is we happen to live very close to a recycling drop-off. If we weren't so close I may question whether we would have got on a such a regular schedule in the first place (?)

So call me selfish, but I support the Blue Box program simply out of laziness. I don't mind paying a few bucks to be able to walk to the end of my driveway instead of having to bag everything up and go to the bins.

Anonymous said...

I also support a user pay service.

Currently, it doesn't matter where you live in the City, it isn't far to a depot.

I recycle. Why should I pay more for others who won't travel a few blocks to do so. How did they get the consumables home to begin with???

Perhaps the self-proclaimed 'lazy' people could step-up and voluntarily pay for this service. That would be fine, as I'm taxed out.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I recycle everything, and it piles up and piles up till we go to the depot. I don't mind doing this because I want to save the environment, but I know A LOT of people who could care less. I believe that's because half of them don't even know where the depots are located or want to spend the extra time or effort it takes to collect, clean and then drive them there. I know that if recyclables were picked up every week from our curbs(just like our garbage is) then more people would participate, which is what the world needs. We need more people to make these changes to make a difference. Maybe we could have weekly trips to the dump so everyone can see what a city the size of GP produces in garbage. I've paid taxes for more useless things than a curbside recycling pick up, so what would a few more bucks a month be for something that actually does affect everyone of us, whether we know it or not. I strongly believe that we should all pay, I know that doesn't make sense because I have no problem taking my recyclables down myself at no cost, but if it will get everyone I know recycling then I think its totally worth it!!!


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