Racked with the pain of arthritis, 65-year-old Al Race has just managed to move his garbage cans to his laneway for pick-up.
Starting next week however, he says he’ll have to haul three large bins to the front of his house over uneven terrain, which his joint pain precludes him from doing.
Race said because of his disability, his garbage service will effectively stop on Oct. 1, when the city’s new Rethink Waste Collection Program kicks in.
However Rob Costanzo, Surrey’s deputy operations manager of engineering, said Thursday Race will be looked after. A special service for people in need will have haulers bring the bins from the side of the house to the front for him.
Race isn’t the only resident concerned or confused about the city’s new garbage system, which launches on Monday.
The Leader has been inundated with calls and letters wondering how the system is going to unfold, or why it’s necessary at all.
The change in trash pick-up is part of Metro Vancouver’s regional waste strategy, which has an aim of raising its recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2015.
In preparation for the change, over the last several months, Surrey has been dropping off three large bins with different colored lids at homes throughout the city.
Surrey residents are being asked to pull the bins away from the curb to their house for now.
Starting next month, Surrey will start picking up food waste and other organics separately. A smaller container will be provided to each home for people to separate their food scraps in the kitchen before taking them to the bin.
Organics include food waste such as fruits and vegetables, meat (including bones), cooking oil, and breads, as well as food-soiled paper like tea bags, napkins, paper towels and pizza boxes , as well as yard waste (grass clippings, leaves, plants and small trimmings).
The organics, in a green bin, will be picked up every week.
Recycling (blue bin) and garbage (black bin) will be picked up every second week.
Mixed household containers and paper products can go in the blue bin.
Anything that doesn’t go in the green or blue bins goes in the black garbage bin.
The program hasn’t yet begun, but The Leader has heard criticism from readers.
Joyce Stewart lives in Newton and her husband requested the smaller, 240-litre bins, as it’s just he and his wife in the home. The city delivered the larger 360-litre bins.
The brochure Joyce received said she’ll be able to change them at the beginning of next year. She called city staff who said the change will cost her $25 per bin, or $75 for all three.
Others have said it’s just a cash grab by the city, and that the slower pick-up of garbage will increase the stench and rodent problems.
Costanzo said there are a lot of misconceptions about the new program.
He said the city will replace the bins for the Stewarts for free if the ordering error was Surrey’s.
As for the belief that picking up garbage every second week will create a stench or rodent problems, it shouldn’t be an issue, Costanzo said.
“If they’re diverting their organics, what smelly wet waste will they have every two weeks?” Costanzo asked. “The waste that stinks is the organics, and we’re collecting that weekly.”
He acknowledges the city phones have been busy regarding the new bin drop-offs.
“We’re starting to get a lot of questions, not so much complaints, although we have had a few complaints based on misconceptions,” Costanzo said.
One of the questions arising is regarding dog waste, which the city will no longer pick up.
“Once we have our biofuel facility, we can take that type of waste,” Costanzo said.
In the meantime, city staff are steering dog poop questions to the Metro Vancouver website: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/solidwaste/Residents/yard/Pages/dogwaste.aspx
Another complaint the city has heard is that there has been little or no public consultation, which Costanzo said is a complete myth.
“We did no less than 30 public consultations, all advertised,” Costanzo said. “In all those consultations, (the feedback has) been entirely positive,” adding the move to composting organics isn’t a choice for the city.
Some people who have called and written The Leader complained that the bins are too large for their compact community.
Costanzo said there’s a nominal difference in footprint between the new bins and two garbage cans with blue boxes.
“They (the bins) are more vertical, they’re not wide,” Costanzo said. “In just about every case, there’s room at the side of the house, the side of the garage or the backyard. There’s a lot of space there.”
He acknowledged there will be some “teething issues” as residents begin to get used to the new system.
He pointed out other areas in the region have already switched to the new pick-up system –16 of the 22 cities in Metro Vancouver are already starting to collect organics separately.
And a lot of money will be saved.
About 65 per cent of Surrey’s entire waste is organic. The region is paying $107 a metric ton to dispose of it, as opposed to less than $50 a ton charged by organics facilities.
Add to that the fact Surrey’s waste is trucked to the landfill in Cache Creek, and there will be savings found in gas costs and environmental benefits in burning less fossil fuel.
In addition, organics emit methane gas when disposed of at a landfill, which is more than 20 times worse than carbon emissions on global warming.
The federal government announced Thursday it’s committing $17 million to the construction of a biofuel facility in Port Kells.
When built, organics taken there will capture all the methane and emit zero carbons, Costanzo said.
The fuel made there will be used to drive the trucks used for curbside waste pick-up.
“Surrey will have North America’s first fully integrated organic waste management process,” Costanzo said.
He acknowledges there will be some growing pains for Surrey residents.
“This is a huge leap, but it’s a huge leap in the right direction,” Costanzo said. “We want to minimize the effect on our planet, and this is what we deemed is the best approach.”
More information will be available at the city’s website at www.surrey.ca/rethinkwaste or by calling the Waste Collection Hotline at 604-590-7289.
New garbage bins – What goes where?
• Fruits and vegetables
• Meat (including bones)
• Cooking oil
• Food-soiled paper (tea bags, paper towels, pizza boxes)
• Yard trimmings
• Mixed household containers (egg cartons, drink bottles)
• Paper products (newspapers)
• All other garbage (no pet waste)