Thanksgiving Day on Monday marked the first time the city of Surrey has ever collected household waste during a holiday.
It went well, said Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s deputy operations manager in the engineering department.
Under the new system, the company collecting the trash picks it up even on holidays, with the exceptions of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Costanzo said the city used portable electronic sign boards to alert residents in the South Surrey collection area about the holiday Monday pickup, and it appears to have paid off.
He estimates about 95 per cent of the households got their waste carts to the curb that day.
“Those sign boards have done wonders for us,” Costanzo told Peace Arch News last week.
The rented signs will be moved from one collection area to another to notify residents about impending collection days for the rest of the month.
Costanzo said almost all Surrey households now have the new trash collection carts, with less than 200 still awaiting delivery of the wheeled bins that hook onto the automated pickup machinery on the sides of the trash trucks.
He added a “small number” of households who specifically requested 120-litre collection carts will have to wait for the factory to make more. (The carts come in five sizes; 80, 120, 180, 240 and 360 litres.)
The City of Surrey is planning what Costanzo calls an “aggressive” advertising campaign to warn residents about trying to slip regular garbage into organic waste.
He estimates 10 to 15 per cent of organic waste carts are being contaminated with plastic bags, cans or glass.
Very soon, Costanzo warned, crews will refuse to take contaminated organic waste.
“That cart is not going to get collected.”
As part of preparing for the roll-out of the new service, the city required the contractor to have extra trucks in reserve to cover missed pickups.
That money was built into the budget, as were the rented electronic signs and other expected transition costs, Costanzo said.
The change in the way Surrey trash is collected is part of Metro Vancouver’s regional waste strategy that aims to raise the recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2015.
More information is available at the city’s website, www.surrey.ca/rethinkwaste or by calling the waste collection hotline at 604-590-7289.