North Bay’s blue bin program diverted less waste from the landfill in 2019 as it did the previous year, but the city says that should be no cause for concern.
The amount of waste in blue bins decreased in 2019 for the first time in five years. 2018 had 3,624 tonnes of waste diverted through blue bins compared to 3,311 tonnes in 2019.
Al Tomek, the city’s Waste Management Co-ordinator and Environmental Control Officer, says the drop in waste is due to a widespread change in packaging.
“A lot of manufacturers are going from glass to plastics. Lots of people are getting their news online. So, we’re seeing more containers but those containers are weighing far less,” said Tomek, adding that liquor bottle returns and aluminum can collection also cuts into the blue bin numbers.
In the city’s Blue Box and Waste Diversion Plan, which council is being recommended to approve at Tuesday’s meeting, the 2019 numbers revealed that around one-fifth of the total waste produced in North Bay was diverted through recycling programs.
Tomek says that the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
“There’s a lot of variables and a lot of things we can’t count for whatever reason. If you bring your scrap steel to the depot, we can account for that. If you bring your scrap steel to a scrap dealer, that’s not accounted for,” Tomek said, adding that the municipality is required to provide landfill numbers to the province every year.
According to the report, North Bay produced 44,538 tonnes of waste in 2019, with 9,033 being diverted through recycling. Tomek says that those figures account for the entire municipality, including businesses. He says that residential waste accounts for approximately 13,000 tonnes.
With the pandemic, Tomek says that the overall amount of waste the city is taking on hasn’t increased, but one certain type of waste has.
“The volume of corrugated cardboard has skyrocketed. People have bought in bulk, people are now shopping online and everything comes in a corrugated cardboard box,” he said.
The city’s main goals for its recycling plan is to:
- Increase participation by those eligible to receive the service.
- Expand the scope of eligibility to more users.
- Decrease residue at the recycling facility
Tomek says that the city has done a good job of achieving its goals, adding that a big change is coming for taxpayers. In 2023, the cost of the blue bin program will be handed to the manufacturers of the waste, meaning taxpayers will no longer fund it.
Every year, the city is required to submit a recycling report to the province.