The City of Kingston, Ontario will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the retrofit, design, and construction of a materials recovery facility (MRF). The drafting of the RFP began in earnest when City Council recently voted in favour of a new MRF and for the weekly collection of blue and grey boxes.

City council recently voted to have staff move forward with plans to change the way the city collects recycling. Requests for proposal are to be issued shortly for the retrofit, design and build of a new material recovery facility and for the weekly collection of blue and grey boxes.

Heather Roberts, director of solid waste services, explains the proposed changes that could come to the city’s recycling program in Kingston, Ont. on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Photo Credit: Elliot Ferguson/The Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network)

“Glass will be in the blue box with plastic containers and paper and other fibre products and plastic bags will still be in the grey box. So you would set out a grey box and a blue box,” explained Heather Roberts, director of solid waste services as reported by the Kingston Whig Standard.

The blue box would simply be tipped into one compartment on the side of the truck and the grey box would be dumped into another compartment on the side of the truck,” Roberts added. “Glass and paper are still going to be kept separate in those two different boxes and not stuck together.”

The city is studying a variety of ways to achieve its stated goal of diverting 65 per cent of household waste from landfills by 2025. The current waste diversion rate stands at about 60 per cent, a rate that has held steady for the past few years and is not expected to increase.

“The preferred approaches and enhancements to achieve and sustain 60 per cent waste diversion have been implemented, and the waste diversion rate is not expected to increase with the status quo,” according to a staff report.

City officials say they’re now exploring a raft of new measures in order to reach the 65 per cent target. Among the new trash disposal ideas being considered are:

  • an increase in the cost of garbage bag tags to encourage greater participation in the city’s diversion programs
  • the elimination of the existing one free bag per week and exploration of full user pay options, including a policy for low-income individuals
  • the prohibition of recyclables and organics in the garbage stream and the use of clear bags for garbage
  • a reduction in the frequency of garbage collection from weekly to every two weeks for most eligible properties
  • a limit on the number of additional tagged garbage bags permitted for collection

Other options on the table include reducing the number of special two-bag garbage weeks from three to two a year, increasing the size of the city’s blue and grey boxes, implementing the mandatory use of green bins at properties with multiple residences, eliminating fees and charges for schools that participate in the green bin organics program and providing two size options for green bins at either 45 or 80 litres.

City officials say the long list of options can be more easily adopted under the existing waste management system and will have a minimal impact on municipal budgets. They add that choosing how to proceed will be the focus of upcoming public consultations, however it will ultimately be up to city council to approve any new strategies.

According to data collected in 2017, the city handled 41,760 tonnes of household waste. Of that amount, 16,405 tonnes was sent to the landfill and 25,355 tonnes was diverted through recycling and compost programs.