City of Guelph Waste Diversion Performance Suffers

Connector Winter 2017

Guelph is losing ground in working towards its goal of diverting 70% of residential waste from landfill by 2021, and so city hall is planning more public education and more enforcement of the city’s waste management bylaw this year.

“We are just getting geared up for targeted public education and enforcement, as well as general public education and enforcement,” according to Cameron Walsh, the city’s plant manager of solid waste resources.

Guelph’s waste diversion rate in 2015 was 63%, down from a peak of 69% achieved in 2013. Contributing factors include an increasing proportion of multi-residential housing units in the city, new residents who aren’t used to Guelph’s three-stream waste sorting and changes in food packaging.

The weight of residential waste bound for landfill increased to 10,909 tonnes in 2015 from 8,679 tonnes in 2014, while the weight of recyclables dropped to 9,367 tonnes in 2015 from 10,144 tonnes in 2014.

Meanwhile, the volume of organics bound for the city’s composting plant from Guelph residences – including the contents of green bins, as well as yard waste – rose to 9,701 tonnes in 2015 from 9,568 in 2014.

The opening of the city’s new composting plant in 2012 made a big difference to Guelph’s diversion rate, which jumped to 68% in 2012 from 48% in 2011.

That same year, the city began a three-year conversion from bags to bins for the three streams of residential waste. There were concerns when the bags-to-bins switch happened that residents might not be so careful in waste sorting.

Although collection workers no longer have a chance to eye residential waste through transparent green, blue and clear plastic bags before tossing it into the truck, the city does “pretty high-tech” monitoring of what goes into the trucks from residential carts, including use of cameras installed on the trucks, Walsh said. “We have program staff who do curbside audits, as well.”

The targeted measures, being planned in conjunction with city bylaw enforcement officials, are initially aimed at six multi-residential properties.

While some multi-residential units, including condominiums, have private waste collection, the city currently collects waste at about 44% of apartment buildings, mostly low-rise buildings, and at about 88% of townhouse/row house properties, said Walsh.

Asked whether he thinks Guelph can still meet its target of diverting 70% of residential waste from landfill by 2021, Walsh said he does.

Source: Guelph Mercury Tribune