September 24, 2020

BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND

It’s hard to remember a time when there was no region-wide recycling program, curbside leaf collection or Green Bin program.

But these programs have only been in use since the implementation of the Region of Waterloo’s 1986 Waste Management Master Plan (WMMP), a study that looks at waste collection, diversion and disposal over a 20-year plus period.

And now, as the region grows, a new Waste Management Master Plan is being developed, as it is necessary to consider new ways of maintaining and improving the region’s current waste management programs and services.

According to the Region of Waterloo’s website, this new WMMP study will consider our growing population, changes to Ontario legislation, and advances in waste management technology.”

“The reason we are doing this is because we have achieved a lot of the goals set out in the original plan,” said Cari Howard, project manager for the region’s waste management division.

“The only outstanding thing is in regards to the Waterloo landfill, which should have been closed by now,” she said.

And since the Waterloo landfill is predicted to be full in less than 20 years’ time, the region will also “identify opportunities to divert even more waste from our landfill, and recommend options for final waste disposal once the landfill has reached the end of its site life.”

According to Donna Serrati, manager of engineering and programs for the region’s waste management division, “we are looking at all waste management activities, including at curb, how we pick things up, enhancing and expanding programs, and what we will do with the remaining portion of waste.”

“We are looking at all options,” added landfill waste management supervisor, Paul Rabb.

“Anything we do could potentially affect the environment and the surrounding communities,” he said.

“The region is going through an evaluation process to see which alternatives will provide the most benefits with the least impact,” Serrati said.

The region has, therefore, been looking for feedback from community members as to how they can better improve the current waste management program, by suggesting ways that other cities go about waste management to see what residents thought.

“Residents, who are mainly commenting on collection services, seemed enthusiastic about the idea of collecting garbage every two weeks, with green bin and recycling collection every week,” said Howard.

“This idea seemed more popular than garbage fines or limits.”

Other ideas that residents suggested included an organics collection program at apartment buildings and better awareness about what can be recycled.

Residents can review the project reports and information online and attend public information events. Surveys have also been completed at past public information events and online.

One more public information event will take place in the spring, and the WMMP is set to be complete in the fall.