Changes to waste collection are in the bag

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen will no longer accept yard waste in plastic bags

It costs $2.36 per year to have someone rip open all of the plastic bags of yard waste sent to the landfill by the average Kaleden homeowner.

The cost ranges from $0.65 for Cawston residents to $5.26 for Naramatians, according to a report submitted to the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen before it voted last week to ban the use of plastic bags in favour of biodegradable paper sacks or reusable containers effective July 1.

While the de-bagging cost is built into the contract the RDOS has with its waste-collection contractor, eliminating the de-bagging requirement should free up dollars for better services, according to Garry Litke, an RDOS director and chair of its Environment and Infrastructure Committee.

“It doesn’t really make sense the way we’ve been doing it,” he said.

In addition to the costs associated with de-bagging the yard waste, the plastic bags themselves also become landfill material because they are too contaminated to recycle, Litke said.

The paper bags, already required in Penticton and other regional municipalities, go directly onto the compost heap.

“I’ve had only positive comments on the changes in Penticton,” Litke added.

Yard waste collection schedules in RDOS rural areas will also change.

Areas D, E and F and Keremeos will have unlimited pick-up every other week between March and November, effective July 1. That equals 19 collections per year, up from the current nine.

Areas A, B, C and G will see a reduction from nine to just six unlimited pick-ups per year. The report provided to the RDOS board indicated, however, that those areas generate a “minimal amount” of yard waste, and the money saved by reducing the frequency of collections will be poured into better advertising the new pick-up dates.

The usual restrictions on the size of some yard waste will remain in place, and there are no alterations planned to the existing collection schedule for garbage, recycling and large items.

Further details on the changes will be rolled out in the weeks ahead. Some areas can also expect small increases in fees for waste pick-up.