In response to the City of Calgary increasing the tipping fees at their landfills for loads containing prohibited materials, Chestermere Utilities Inc. (CUI) will no longer be collecting clear bags containing prohibited materials.
“There’s no change in the requirements we’re just changing our enforcement approach,” said CUI CEO Leigh-Anne Palter.
The stricter enforcement will came into effect on Sept. 3.
“So, the same rules and conditions that have always been in place as to what goes where…all of that is the same.
“We’re just giving people fair notice on a more broad basis that we’re not going to take stuff that hasn’t been properly sorted or if it is overweight,” said Palter.
She said that both the weight limit of 25kg per clear bag and what materials can be placed in the clear bags were set out in 2015 when the city passed the Waste Management Bylaw.
CUI is making their changes to enforcement a month before Calgary’s new $180 tipping fee for prohibited materials comes into effect in October.
“We’re just now at the point where that October first deadline is looming, and we’re continuing to see a good deal of contamination or prohibited materials in each of the three streams,” said Palter.
The goal is that city residents will be able to gradually change any non-compliant behaviours over the month of September before CUI starts to incur the increased costs.
“We’ve done the math…if Calgary charges us the increased rate for every one of the loads we bring to their landfill we could incur costs of at least $100,000,” said Palter.
“Frankly if we’re at that rate of non-compliance we expect that they’ll just forbid us from delivering our loads there,” she said.
If CUI were to be banned from using City of Calgary Landfills, Palter said there is no cost effective alternative.
“There’s not a cost-effective alternative for us right now when you factor in hauling costs as well as man power costs,” said Palter.
“So really important that we try and manage to the extent possible the rate of contamination in the waste streams so that we can manage those costs,” she said.
With the clear bag garbage collection program in Chestermere, CUI operators are able to readily check for prohibited items in residential garbage.
“So that’s why we’re using the clear bags, its really the only way for us to efficiently identify whether prohibited materials are in those bags,” she said.
Bags identified with prohibited materials will be tagged and left behind by the CUI operators.
That being the case, Palter said they are looking for significant contamination, not errant slips of paper in the garbage.
“We’re looking for obvious things like the other day we came across a quarter of a water melon,”
Other examples of bags that have been found with significant contamination include entire cardboard boxes, tin cans and bottles, and even an entire slab cake.
“We’re really looking for those obvious cases,” she said.
Palter said that they rely on the judgment of their operators when deciding whether or not to collect a bag.
“There could be a degree of discretion or subjectivity around some of the decisions and customers might not always agree with our decisions,” said Palter, “and conversely sometimes our operators with the best of intentions might make a mistake.”
“And if we make a mistake we’ll fix it, which means…we’ll go back the next day and we’ll get it,” she said.
CUI is also stepping up their enforcement of the weight limit for the clear bags.
This serves a dual purpose to both protect the health and safety of workers but also to identify bags with contamination.
“The issue as we see it now, people who are using the program to its fullest extent by and large their garbage is very light,” said Palter
“The things that are heavy are food, food is very heavy and construction waste and those kinds of things,” she said.
For more information on the increased enforcement visit www.cuinc.ca and to find out what waste products go where go to https://cuinc.ca/sorting-central.