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Municipal 2018
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Councillor’s motion to look into organic waste collection fails

by Olivia Rutt

GUELPH - Wellington County council is holding off on making any moves regarding organic waste collection after a councillor motion to study the feasibility failed.

Councillor Don McKay, chair of the solid waste services committee, gave an update to council on June 28 about the province’s Food and Organic Waste Framework.

The framework, which was announced before the election, is a strategy for a zero-waste future with zero greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector, states a report from manager of solid waste services Das Soligo.  

The action plan aims to reduce food and organic waste, recover resources from food and organic waste, support resource recovery infrastructure and promote beneficial uses of recovered organic resources.

Of the 17 action items, one includes a phased-in ban of food and organic waste disposal starting in 2022.

“It will be a complex task to develop a practical, enforceable disposal ban,” stated Soligo, adding that staff will report back as more is known about the ban and how it will affect the county’s waste management services and operations.

For areas that do not already offer curbside organic waste pick up, implementation would be required for areas with more than 100 people per square kilometre. All of the county’s municipalities are below 100 people/sq km, including Centre Wellington, which is the highest at 73 people/sq km, stated the report.

However, the policy statement said if the municipalities do not meet the thresholds, then they are required to provide resources for food and organic waste disposal through home composting, commuting composting and local event days.

“The County of Wellington may need to significantly enhance its food and organic waste promotion and education efforts in order to be considered in compliance with the policy statement,” stated Soligo.

Both councillors Gregg Davidson and Andy Lennox asked council to consider doing more for organic waste.

“I see organics as a resource, not as a waste,” said Lennox.

“I think organics shouldn’t be going into the landfill because they are depleting the length of the lifespan of our landfills. They represent solar energy that’s contained that we could capture or reuse.

“It’s a valuable resource for our largest resource in our county, agriculture. I think if we don’t capture a vision of what we think as the future for this sort of  ... solid waste stream, we’re missing the boat.”

Davidson said as the county moved into phase two of some of its landfills, it should be focusing on diverting organic waste.

“We also know that from studies, about one-third of every garbage bag is organic matter that can be diverted,” he said.

“I believe that it is also pretty important … that we do something with our organics. It is a resource for us.”

Davidson explained budgeted funds were remaining from the rural garbage collection survey and raised a motion to use those funds to look into the county’s direction for organic waste collection in urban areas.

Councillor Doug Breen said he has “pretty strong opinions” on organic waste, adding he has “absolutely no idea” why organics make up one-third of waste.

“I also see it as a resource, not as waste and there is zero waste leaving my own personal house,” he said.

“I don’t really see how in my own personal life there’s actually a role for the county and, quite frankly to have a bunch of diesel trucks belching, going up and down the road to collect very small quantities of organic waste doesn’t seem efficient, or close to carbon neutral.”

Breen said that most of the organic waste should be composted on people’s properties.

“For 99.9% of the properties, they just don’t want the hassle and the potential smell and maybe some mice running around, of composting in their own backyard,” he said.  

“Get over it or stop complaining about it.”

McKay said solid waste services is already trying to educate the public about organic waste composting. Lennox said the county needs to think long-term.

“My vision here is, what is the future here 10, 20 years out?” he said.

“Not all of our community in the future is going to have the ability ... to deal with their organics. We’re looking at increasing density in our urban centres.

“They don’t have the same capacity to deal with that as a single family detached, which is the mainstay of our community. I think you got to think longer term.”

Davidson added that the county should be thinking about the lifespan of the current landfills.

“It’s not about what we need today,” he said.

“We need to look at what our community people are doing now; are they backyard composting, are they composting everything they possibly can, likely most aren’t.”

Councillor Gary Williamson said that the province had introduced the idea of a ban starting in 2022, and the county is going to keeping an eye on it, especially with the change in government.

“The province is going to, in all likelihood, tell us what we are or what we can’t do,” he said.

Davidson’s motion failed with Lennox, Davidson and councillor Dave Anderson in favour and the remaining councillors against.

Councillor Neil Driscoll was absent.

July 13, 2018

 
 

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