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Battery Recycling Program to Launch in Saskatchewan

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The Government of Saskatchewan recently launched a new recycling program for consumer batteries that will provide an option for people in various parts of the province to dispose of their household batteries in an environmentally responsible manner.

Launching January 1, 2021, the program is operated by Call2Recycle Canada Inc., a non-profit environmental stewardship organization that has been voluntarily collecting batteries in Saskatchewan for recycling since 1997.  Call2Recycle met all the regulatory requirements of a government-approved program under The Household Hazardous Waste Products Stewardship Regulations, 2019.

“This recycling program is a positive step for the environment and for the people of Saskatchewan,” Environment Minister Warren Kaeding said.  “Having a convenient and important program in place to keep batteries and other hazardous materials out of our landfills helps support provincial goals laid out in our Solid Waste Management Strategy.”

“I would like to extend my thanks to the Government of Saskatchewan for its commitment to battery recycling in the province,” Call2Recycle Canada, Inc. President Joe Zenobio said.  “Under the new regulation, Call2Recycle’s program will connect residents with many easily accessible and convenient battery drop-off locations across the province.  We encourage all residents to safely drop off their batteries at their nearest collection location to help create a more sustainable environment for generations to come.”

The program accepts used single-use and rechargeable consumer batteries (weighing less than five kilograms each), excluding lead acid batteries.  In partnership with municipalities and retailers, Call2Recycle has established convenient drop-off locations across the province for Saskatchewan residents, including in all SARCAN depots.

“We are excited for SARCAN’s 73 collection depots to be a part of Call2Recycle’s national network of battery collection sites,” SARC and SARCAN Recycling Executive Director Amy McNeil, said.  “Our team of SARCAN recyclers is ready to help the people of Saskatchewan divert even more hazardous materials from our land and waterways, which means protecting our environment for generations to come.”

As part of the new program, an environmental handling fee will be paid at the point of purchase effective January 1, 2021.  The fee rates range, depending on the size of battery and the chemistry type.  For example, fees for AAA and AA batteries are $0.02 and $0.04, respectively.

The fees will be paid to Call2Recycle for the collection, transportation and recycling of the batteries at their end-of-life. For the full fee structure and a map of drop-off locations, please visit https://www.call2recycle.ca/saskatchewan/.

Source: Province of Saskatchewan

Regina’s Green Cart Pilot Project showing signs of Success

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The first month results are in on the City of Regina’s green cart pilot project.  Pilot projects participants of the Saskatchewan city of 230,000 have increased the residential diversion rate to 51.7 per cent by using their green carts. These early results show that when fully implemented, green carts will help move Regina closer to our goal of diverting 65 per cent of residential waste from the landfill.

The City launched a one-year residential Food and Yard Waste Pilot in fall 2020 with approximately 2,800 homes across the community to test, evaluate and revise the service before city-wide roll out.  A food and yard waste service will meet current and future waste disposal needs, extend the life of our Landfill and protect the quality of life of future generations.

There is lots of excitement about the new service among pilot participants. In a pre-pilot survey, participating households said:

  • 93% support the Food and Yard Waste Pilot.
  • 84% indicated support for using a third cart for food and yard waste.
  • 82% indicated support for year-round biweekly garbage collection.

Pilot participants are being good sorters. Most of the material collected is on the acceptable items list including food scraps such as meat, bones, dairy and greases, yard waste, soiled paper towel and cardboard. The majority of items we are seeing that don’t belong have been plastic bags and cups.

Every bit of food and yard waste that goes into the green carts makes a difference. It saves landfill space, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the material collected is turned into compost. The City’s pilot processing site at the Landfill uses the GORE Cover System, a proven model currently operating at over 300 sites around the world. The typical composting process is eight weeks.

Throughout the year, the City will continue to monitor the pilot and work with participants to determine the best options for the city-wide Food and Yard Waste Service in 2023.

Saskatoon to launch curbside organics program in 2023

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan City Council recently voted in favour of a moderate phase-in of a curbside organics program and funding of existing waste services. Under the new program, a full-scale residential organics pick-up program will be in place in the City of 250,000 by 2023.

To pay for the organics program, property taxes will be increased incrementally over a four year period as follows:

  • 2020 – 1.0% Property Tax Increase – No change to current waste services.
  • 2021 – 1.0% Property Tax Increase – No change to current waste services.
  • 2022 – 1.0% Property Tax Increase – No change to current waste services.
  • 2023 – 0.93% Property Tax Increase – First year of curbside organics program. New waste service level (bi-weekly collection in summer).

This organics program attempts to balance financial investment with a view towards achieving the City’s waste diversion target. The first 1.53% (approximately $3 million) of the 2020 and 2021 Property Tax impact is solely dedicated to addressing the funding deficit in the Waste Program while the remaining estimated 2.4% will go towards a new curbside organics program. The City will continue to seek alternative funding sources on an annual basis to reduce this impact. Precise timing for the deployment of the curbside organics program in 2023 would be determined by the terms of the successful proposal from the organics RFP process.

In its report to City Council, the Administration stated that the implementation of a city-wide curbside organics program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the tonnes of organics that are landfilled. Reducing the amount of organics entering the landfill will also extend landfill life. The report stated that for each year without an organics program, between $1.1 million to $1.6 million in landfill airspace is consumed with materials that could be diverted.

“We will now focus on developing the implementation plan for the curbside organics program,” says Dan Willems, Acting Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer. “We look forward to providing this new service to residents in 2023 and making strides towards our waste diversion target.” 

Diversion Targets

The City of Saskatoon has a waste diversion target of 70% by 2023. In its report to Council, the City Administration was of the view that the target will not be met without significant resources being directed to diversion programs. The City Administration estimates that the curbside organics program in Saskatoon will result in an additional 13% waste diversion, subject to participation levels from residents. In order to meet the 2023 diversion target, the curbside organics program and other community waste diversion programs would need to be implemented by the end of 2023.

Analysis of the make-up of residential waste in Saskatoon

Saskatoon currently has an optional seasonal organics diversion program in place and has approximately 8,500 residential households participating. The program has seen greater than 10% growth over each of the last few years. This program currently diverts nearly 2,800 tonnes of material from the landfill annually.

The detailed report and all of its attachments can be found here

Saskatchewan Municipals Renew Focus on 3Rs

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Two Saskatchewan municipalities, Saskatoon and Regina, have recently intensified their focus on the 3Rs in an effort to divert more waste from landfill.

Saskatoon

In June, Saskatoon City Council voted to move gradually to composting of source separated organics and a Pay-as-you-Throw garbage collection model.  According to a consultant’s report commission by the City Council, Saskatoon was lagging far behind other municipalities in Canada.

The City is one of the last communities of its size to introduce blue bin recycling.  Saskatoon diverts less than a quarter of all waste from landfill while many other Canadian cities have been above the 50 per cent mark for years.

Saskatoon has a population of approximately 270,000 and is the largest City in the province and and the 17th largest Census Metropolitan Area in Canada, with a population of approximately 300,000.

One of the challenges of recycling in Saskatoon is the low density of the population.  The City has a density of 1,200 people per square kilometre.  Comparatively, Canada’s largest City, Toronto, has a density of over 4,000 people per square kilometre.

Under the proposed Pay-as-you-Throw Program, households would be charged a utility fee instead of paying for garbage through property taxes.  When implemented, households will pay a variable utility fee depending on the size of their garbage cart.

In early September, Saskatoon’s Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate services meeting heard administration recommend bi-weekly pickup, and dropping waste collection from property taxes, with residents instead paying a monthly utility bill.  According to an administrative report, there is an estimated property tax rate reduction of 3.5 per cent under this model. However, because the city is proposing a 4 per cent overall increase, the net effect under this model would result in a 0.5 per cent property tax increase in 2019.  The PAYT system is expected to go before city council for a final decision on Sept. 24.

Saskatoon Council also voted in June to develop an organics program that will operate year-round using a single green cart for food and yard waste.  The current cart size and frequency of curbside recycling will remain the same, but councillors deferred a decision on how much to spend buying green carts.

Brenda Wallace, the City of Saskatoon’s director of environmental and corporate initiatives, stands next to three different garbage cart sizes at city hall (Phot Credit: Phil Tank/The StarPhoenix)

An Administration Report released in early September estimated that the new waste and organics program in Saskatoon could cost residents an additional $20 to $30 per month.  City administration recommended $13.6-million in capital funding be approved to implement a year round, bi-weekly organics and waste collection program for curbside residential households.  Administration also recommends that compost depots continue operating with no changes to existing service levels.

The City Administration recommended organics and waste be collected bi-weekly. It estimates the utility cost for residents would be $20 per month based on the use of a medium sized waste cart. Weekly collection of organics and waste would cost around $33 per month.

Regina

Recently, the City of Regina introduced a pilot project to roll out an organic waste program over the next four years. Lisa Legault, director for Regina’s Solid Waste, said the city’s goal has been to divert 65 per cent of household waste from the landfill. The city began its blue bin recycling in 2015, but is still stuck at the 20 per cent mark in its diversion goal.

The proposed pilot project, which would take effect in 2020, would see compost picked up weekly with garbage eventually being picked up biweekly. A final implementation plan will be presented to council in spring 2021 with a city-wide implementation starting in 2022.

According to Legault, the annual cost of the organic waste service would be $7.9 million. However, she added, $4.6 million would be saved from garbage collection, cutting the cost to $3.3 million. Homeowners would pay between $36 to $51 extra on their property taxes.  The pilot project would cost the city $3.5 million.

Lisa Legault, the City of Regina’s director of solid waste, (Photo Credit: Jessie Anton/980 CJME)

Coupled with the organics program, the Solid Waste Department is proposing a new funding policy for curbside waste services.  The proposed model would fund curbside recycling and future diversion services, like organics, through property taxes and curbside garbage collection through user fees. Currently, residents pay for curbside recycling services through a monthly fee on utility ‘water’ bills. This fee would be eliminated. It is reasoned that the proposed approach will motivate residents to reduce their waste generation and focus on diversion.

Under the proposed new financial model, curbside garbage collection will be based on the size of garbage cart the resident requires and will be billed through a monthly fee on the City’s utility bills. Residents who reduce waste and continue to take advantage of waste diversion services will have the opportunity to choose the lowest cost service option.

In June, Regina City Councillors delayed plans for a price on garbage bins until Waste Department staff came up with more details on the cost of the plan.  “It’s difficult to make a decision on a fee structure when I don’t know what it is,” said Councillor Andrew Stevens.  “User fees, flat-rate user fees, generally function as a regressive taxation system,” he said. “You’re going to see low-income people paying more.”  Lisa Legault noted that requiring residents to pay for the cheaper program (recycling) through property taxes and the costlier one (garbage pickup) through fees could help lower taxes.

At a Public Works Committee meeting in June, City staff told Councillors they’ll be ready to report back on fees around October of this year.