Organic waste collection to begin next week

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Green bins will be rolling out to Okotoks curbs starting Monday.

Town council gave final approval of the Town’s new waste management bylaw Sept. 26, making organic waste collection mandatory for each household in town. Blue bins have also been delivered to all homes previously not subscribed to curbside recycling service.

Council is allowing residents to opt-out of the blue cart service only, between Jan. 1, 2017 and Feb. 28, 2017 after hearing input from the community in recent months.

Those residents who choose to opt out will be charged a waste management fee of $15.25 to cover costs. All other households will see a charge of $20.50 for garbage collection and curbside recycling. Organics collection is provided to all Okotoks residents free-of-charge.

“I’m asking residents to really try this program over the next three months, because we’re really convinced this program is one that will lead us in the direction that, as a town, we ought to be going in,” said Paul Lyons, Okotoks waste services manager. “Try the program. We will all see the benefit.”

Lyons said he was satisfied with the way the waste management policy and bylaw was finalized. Though he would have liked to see all residents take up both the recycling and organic waste carts, he said the program as it stands now is a good compromise.

“At the end of the day, the Town was able to roll out something that was acceptable to both parties as we evaluate the input presented by our citizens,” said Lyons. “It’s wonderful the way it is.”

He said if all residents can get on board with organics collection, the Town would see a significant reduction in the amount of garbage sent to the landfill. Other municipalities that have implemented similar programs have seen reductions between 40 and 60 per cent, he said.

He anticipates Okotoks will see a diversion rate close to 50 per cent.

“If we’re able to do that, then we’ll see positive impacts on the environment and also on the landfill space that’s currently available,” said Lyons. “We’ll be able to extend the lifespan of that landfill.”

Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson said he’s pleased with the program as it was approved by council. It recognized those who want to continue to use the recycling depot to handle their materials while also providing curbside service to others, he said.

“For a number of individuals who really like going to the recycling depot, that’s fine,” said Robertson. “For my family situation, the blue cart works better and we’ll continue on with that, and I hope other residents can see the convenience and benefits of it as well.”

Having a green organics cart at every household is an important part of the waste management plan, he said. At no extra charge, he said the green bins allow residents to help the environment by doing something as simple as sorting their trash.

“Any change we implement is difficult, but I do believe we’re just asking people, instead of putting all their materials into one black cart, to put it into two carts so it can be handled differently and composted to use for other purposes rather than just burying it,” said Robertson.

Organic and recycling collection will be done on the same schedule as regular garbage collection with one exception – the green carts will be picked up every second week between October and March, and weekly from April through September.

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