Changes to the region’s waste management program aimed at reducing landfill waste could prove to be a learning curve for most students and residents of the tri-city area.
The options that waste management have presented, which are expected to take effect in March 2017, would see curbside garbage picked up once every two weeks with a limit of four bags per household or every week with a limit of two bags — which is different from the current rules, that state each property is allowed a maximum of 10 bags per week. Large item pick-ups with a limit of three items is among the other changes to come.
Although penalties may be implemented in the future, the region is not considering them at the moment.
"That hasn't really been proposed right now," project manager of waste management projects Cari Howard said. "It's certainly an option that we could go with, but it's been the Region of Waterloo's philosophy to offer the programs and encourage people to participate rather than try to enforce it."
Other services, including unlimited weekly blue box collection, green bin collection, and yard waste collection every two weeks will remain the same. According to Howard, the goal of limiting the amount of garbage is "to encourage people to use the green and blue bins to their fullest extent."
She added that any expected changes will likely come into effect by March 2017, when the current waste collection contract is set to expire.
With three major campuses in the immediate area, these changes put students in danger of violations.
University students who live in off-campus housing are expected to abide by the waste management rules and by-laws, an assumption that doesn’t come easily to students that move frequently.
“We really recommend that students work with their landlord in these situations,” Howard suggested. “Waste management does work together with the cities to provide extra service to the landlords when students are moving in and out, but it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure his tenants are supplied with the proper containers they need to participate in these programs.”
These are, of course, dependent on whether the region goes ahead with the changes, which are currently before city council. In the meantime waste management and the Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI) are working together to raise awareness around possible adjustments to avoid any surprises.
“Our top priority is to make sure students, as well as residents of the region, are well accommodated,” Howard said. “We’ll continue to work with the cities and landlords to help prepare things in the student areas.”
The SCI is also focused on educating students about proper procedures. “The new changes will be posted on the Sustainable Campus Initiative Facebook page and we will also be looking into a more physical outreach through the events planned for the term,” SCI volunteer Aaraby Mohanathas stated.
“As an eco-focused service, it is exciting to see the Region of Waterloo move forward in their waste management processes.
“We believe this will greatly decrease the diversion rates going into the landfills and increase the amount of recycling and composting. This change can definitely be a positive thing if contamination rates within the blue and green bins can be managed and we are excited to see how these new changes will play out.”
Only time will tell how university and college students feel about the region’s new actions.