by Dan Ferguson
Two weeks in, the switch to bi-weekly waste collection in Mission appears to be going well, with the exception of a small number of residents who managed to miss the multiple advisories about the change from weekly pickup to once every two weeks as of April 4.
“Overall, it is going fairly smoothly,” Barry Azevedo, Mission’s manager of environmental services, said Monday.
The district took out a newspaper ad, distributed an advisory door-to-door and issued a new curbside collection calendar with a notice about the new pickup schedule on the front cover, plus a notice inside along with the revised calendar.
Even so, the change came as news to some people.
Azevedo said during the first two weeks, staff were fielding as many as 50 calls a day from residents who put their garbage out on the old schedule and wanted to know why it wasn’t collected.
It amounted to roughly three per cent of people who get curbside pickup, enough that Mission decided to have stickers printed a few days after the switchover.
The notice saying “this is not your garbage collection day” was being attached to waste containers left out under the old schedule.
Mission is also offering a “My Waste” app for smart phones that remind users in advance of all collection days. It can be downloaded at www.my-waste.mobi.
Azevedo said the switch to waste pickup every two weeks was somewhat less of a challenge for Mission than it was for Abbotsford, because Mission did not change contractors, alter collection zones or introduce composting for the first time, all of which Abbotsford did when it made the change in 2013.
Mission has been separating out compostables since 1994, making it one of the very first municipalities in Canada to do so.
Not everyone is a fan of the new system, , with some Mission residents taking to social media to express concern about possible problems with smell and unwelcome attention from rodents and other scavengers because trash will be left in containers for two weeks instead of one.
Mayor Randy Hawes has gone online to respond, saying that will only be a problem for people who don’t separate out compostable and recyclable trash, which will continue to be collected once a week.
“If kitchen waste is removed from the stream and household waste such as meat wrapping is rinsed before disposal there is no odour problems,” Hawes said in one comment posted on the Mission City Record site.
A look at the waste stream into the landfill discovered that there are many homes in Mission that throw their kitchen waste into their regular trash, the mayor noted.
“Some do not even recycle,” Hawes said.
While the new system is “not as convenient” as weekly household waste pickup Hawes said “the need for a plan to reduce solid waste going into our landfill is not only essential, but an environmental and legal requirement.”
Under the new schedule, up to two 80-litre cans of garbage, not exceeding 20 kg in weight, will be collected every two weeks.
Exceptions will be made for families with diaper-wearing infants and people with medical conditions who need more garbage bins.
Compostables and recyclables will still be collected in unlimited amounts every week.
The change follows a 2015 waste audit that showed that 28 per cent of curbside garbage was compostable, and 14 per cent was recyclable.
It’s estimated the change will keep 950 tonnes of recyclables and compostables out of landfills.
The audit showed that approximately two-thirds of households were putting out only one can each week, so the change from two cans a week to two every two weeks was expected to be manageable.
With the switch in garbage collection in April, Mission has announced that spring cleanup will extend over two weeks from May 2 to May 13. Single-family residents can put out an additional two cubic metres of waste on their regular collection day.
One cubic metre is the same as six bags of waste, or one stove, or one armchair. Anything beyond the limit of two cubic metres will be left behind. All materials must be manageable by two people.
Household Hazardous Waste Day will immediately follow spring cleanup on May 14.
Mission residential taxpayers may drop off household hazardous waste including toxic, flammable, corrosive and unknown substances at the Mission Recycling Depot free of charge from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 7229 Mershon Street, across from the West Coast Express parking lot (Paint products, residential pesticides, fluorescent lights, TVs, computer components and batteries can be dropped off at the depot any day of the year).
The Abbotsford switch to bi-weekly garbage and weekly recyclable pickup in 2013 has seen the amount of household waste diverted from landfills in Abbotsford increase from 67 per cent in 2014 to 69 per cent in 2015 and the amount is expected to continue to increase. Prior to the program, the diversion rate was 46 per cent.
The amount of garbage has steadily decreased, from 12,600 tonnes in 2012 to 7,700 tonnes in 2015. That works out to an annual savings on dumping fees of around $90,000 a year.