The logic behind the switch to clear bags is clear: Sustainable Orillia


“Where clear bags have been introduced, there has been a noticeable increase in the diversion of recyclable and compostable materials,” says a city official

By now, most households and businesses in Orillia know that as of February 7, 2022, the city is implementing clear bags for household trash. In simple terms, instead of using the traditional green or black bags, we will be forced to use transparent bags for household waste. Everything else remains the same.

The city gave considerable notice of the change and encouraged local retailers to stock up on clear plastic bags in four different sizes. Communications are continuing and there is a dedicated web page at which details the clear bag program.

The page explains why the city is implementing see-through bags. It has a comprehensive question and answer (Q&A) section and a link directing residents and businesses to where we can purchase clear garbage bags locally.

How we deal with and, ideally, reduce our waste is a critical factor in achieving sustainability as a community. In 2020, waste management and diversion costs (in Orillia) totaled over $2 million, which, after deducting tag sales, tipping fees and other revenue sources, cost Orillia ratepayers nearly $1.5 million.

Waste management costs will certainly increase when the city has to find a new waste disposal option beyond its current landfill; it is therefore in our interest to reduce these costs and the associated carbon emissions. There are two ways we as individuals can help reduce these numbers.

The first reflects the goal of the “clear bagging” program – to reduce the amount of recyclable and compostable materials that end up in our landfill.

Greg Preston, Orillia’s Director of Environmental Services, made this point during a recent discussion with Sustainable Orillia.

“Our current waste diversion rate hovers around 64%. We want and need to bring it closer to our 75% target. By doing so, we will extend the life of our landfill,” Preston said.

“Where clear bags have been introduced, there has been a noticeable increase in the diversion of recyclable and compostable materials. In Markham, for example, within a few years of implementation, they have seen an overall 11% increase in their waste diversion rate,” Preston explained. “If Orillia achieves similar results, we will achieve the target diversion rate of 75%, in addition to reducing costs. and extend the life of our current landfill.

The second thing individuals can do to help reduce materials ending up in landfills is to shop more sustainably. This means avoiding non-recyclable/non-compostable packaging.

We can lobby our favorite retailers and brands to accelerate their transition to compostable packaging. Examples of non-recyclable packaging include the hard plastic wrappers that many cheeses and deli meats come in. Also, the stretch wrap and absorbent pads used in meat wrapping.

Buying local, queuing at the deli counter, and communicating your concerns to various manufacturers are some of the ways we as individuals can help reduce this waste that ends up in our local landfill.

The switch to transparent bags is an extension of the “mandatory municipal regulation on selective sorting at source” introduced in 2012. The current regulation obliges residents to sort recyclable and compostable waste and put it for collection separately from household waste. Garbage bags with more than 30% recyclable and compostable content may be left at the curb by collectors.

Now, with this decision to clean garbage bags, the new number allowed is 10%, which means that garbage bags containing more than 10% recyclable or compostable material will be left at the curb with a refusal sticker. indicating why the bag was left. .

Preston answered three questions about some of the new and current recycling guidelines, including:

1. How will the size of the two “private” bags allowed be defined? What would or could it be?

Preston confirmed that privacy bags can be the size of a shopping bag, all the way up to the 25 liter kitchen bags that many people use. He went on to say that residents using hard-sided bins don’t need to use a large clear bag unless they want to line the container – and they can still fit up to two privacy bags in each container. before labeling it.

2. What about animal waste? Are these plastic newspaper sleeves allowed?

Preston acknowledged that pet waste accounts for almost 20% of the city’s waste each year. He said, “Pet waste in the plastic sleeves or in compostable pet waste bags is considered trash and can be put in the clear bag,” and went on to encourage pet owners animals, where possible, to compost animal waste for their non-vegetables. gardens as a better, more sustainable solution overall.

3. And what can you do if your rubbish is not collected?

“I hope it won’t happen often. We know it may take everyone a while to get through this change and our collection teams will use their judgment, particularly if a household is also recycling,” Preston said.

“When this happens the bag will be tagged explaining why it was left and it will then be up to the resident to sort their trash again or bring it themselves to the waste diversion site – where if tagged, there is no charge.”

Questions like these and many more are, for the most part, answered in the city’s “Solid Waste Collection Guide”. It is a complete and easy to use guide, always available for reference. here.

Or, Google ‘Orillia’s Solid Waste Collection Guide.’ For questions not answered in the guide or the questions and answers on the Clear Bag web page, you are encouraged to call the waste diversion site at 705-325-3522.

As you prepare to introduce clear bags into your household or business waste disposal routine, please keep in mind why this is such an important step. Supporting and adapting clear bags for your waste will play a role in expanding Orillia’s landfill capacity and, more importantly, you will help reduce both the amount of waste we generate each year and the overall cost.

Your support is essential and will be greatly appreciated by future generations.


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