Last week I attended a meeting with staff from the City of Guelph’s Environmental Services department to hear about the City’s latest efforts to provide better waste collection services to multi-residential properties, including condominiums. The City’s 2014 Solid Waste Management Master Plan Update included a recommendation that City waste collection be expanded to multi-residential properties. One of the key pieces of this recommendation – a front-end large bin collection vehicle – is set to be rolled out in the second quarter of 2019. This has taken longer than initially hoped, but better late than never, right?
The new vehicle will allow those multi-residential properties that cannot use the current three cart system to have communal collection points using larger bins. Many high-rises without storage for the carts may be able to switch back to City collection by using the larger bins they likely use now with private collectors. Townhouse properties without garages to store the carts may also benefit from the new front-end collection vehicle as they can construct communal collection points where all owners would dispose of their organics, waste, and recycling.
The City is also implementing a new process to improve services to multi-residential properties where both the existing cart system and the new front-end vehicles are not practical, such as townhouse condominiums with no space to store carts and roads that are too narrow for the existing collection vehicles. The City appears to be committed to finding site-specific solutions. If your condominium is interested in switching back to City waste collection you should have your manager reach out to City staff to schedule a site visit.
There are a number of reasons many condominiums may be eager to return to City waste collection. The primary reason tends to be cost savings. I’m no expert, but it seems that many condominiums in the City are spending $10,000 or more ever year for private collection. Eliminating waste collection from the budget could help keep condo fee increases to a minimum, or the extra money could be used for repair or maintenance work that has been put off. Some condominiums prefer the City’s waste collection system for environmental reasons. Many private collectors do not require the waste to be sorted (or condominiums do not want to pay the higher fees for additional collection) so most of the waste collected ends up in the landfill. The City’s waste collection aims to divert as much from landfill as possible.
Switching back to City’s collection may have its own challenges. Some condominiums may need to hire someone to move the bins or carts to the curb or other suitable location to permit the collection. Other condominiums may need to erect storage areas for the carts or bins, which may require the consent of the owners if the cost is a significant portion of the budget. There are also City by-law requirements that must be followed when erecting these areas so it is wise to contact the City for their assistance before signing any contracts to commence work. Finally, the owners must buy-in to the change or there may be all kinds of issues with proper disposal and sorting. Some owners may be resistant to the change, especially if they are new to the City and unfamiliar with the City’s three stream system.
The key to success? Communication. Regardless of the option chosen for waste collection – municipal or private – the owners must be informed. At a minimum, they need to know the sorting requirements, disposal methods (i.e. bags, bins), and collection days. Other useful tips may include ways to reduce or reuse waste.