City to ask some residents to clean up their recycling act
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
The city wants London residents to continue to refine their recycling habits, but for those who don’t, they could find their items left at the curb.
During the Civic Works Committee meeting on Monday (Oct. 1), councillors discussed — and eventually supported — a staff report recommending the phasing in of an awareness and compliance campaign around the curbside blue box program.
The goal of the awareness campaign, according to the report presented by Jay Stanford, director environmental programs and solid waste, is to reduce blue box processing costs by $250,000 each year. That savings would be achieved, the report suggests, if a target of three per cent (by weight) of non-recyclables or improperly sorted materials arriving at the city’s Materials Recovery Facility.
“Eighty per cent of London residents are doing this very well. Our target is the 10 or 20 per cent who do have some challenges and the ones who are costing the city, unfortunately, upwards of $250,000,” Stanford said. “We do need to improve those recycling behaviours so the 80 per cent that are doings so well see an increase in numbers.”
Under the current curbside program, when a blue box does not comply with program instructions, the drivers will empty the blue boxes and place a reminder sticker on them. The sticker is to inform residents of the correct procedure because drivers have the option of not picking up heavily “contaminated” boxes.
Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Orser expressed concern the small stickers that are attached to the blue boxes were confusing people. Orser’s solution to the public’s sticker confusion involved the use of not only larger stickers and perhaps different colour boxes.
“Is there a chance we can make the sticker larger and make the message more simplistic? I’ve got a couple stickers and I have corrected my behaviour in terms of recycling, but these are concerns that have come through my neighbourhood,” Orser said. “Would there be any benefit if we had a different coloured blue bin. For the sake of argument, if one was red, had it printed in large print paper only or box will not be picked up. Would that help eliminate the confusion?
Stanford said the current stickers that are being utilized were designed to generate the very feedback Orser was providing. Stanford did say there would be value into looking into larger, more permanent stickers, to help reminder residents of their recycling responsibilities.
Stanford also said that if after next week’s council meeting final approval is given, the city actually has five different stickers that will go out to help educate London residents. “Education is our number one priority moving forward and working with the people who are having challenges.”
As for having different colour boxes, Stanford said there was funding made available last year for the larger boxes that were brought in for people to put their containers in. And although he would look into seeing if that funding was still available, Stanford pointed out the city portion of that initiative still came to approximately $300,000, making separate boxes a challenge for the city.
Orser also expressed concern about the program’s proposed awareness campaign, particularly the money that would be used in terms of advertising, and whether those dollars would represent a targeted marketing initiative.
Stanford said the education component of the campaign would be targeted and was part of the reason for the use of different stickers. Those different stickers, Stanford said, would be left on not only a blue box, but on an item that was clearly not part of the recycling program.
“As far as the budget for this, our report refers to a lot of free advertising we get through free media, which comes in as part of the waste diversion organization program,” Stanford said. “So that is what we plan on using for this campaign, it isn’t tax dollars, it is wisely using the options available to us.”
Ward 14 Councillor Sandy White had a concern of her own, particularly the excessive amount of packaging that many companies use with their products. White asked if the city is still looking at speaking with higher levels of government to try and “educate” corporations around excessive packaging.
Stanford said that is happening and he personally will play a role in driving the conversation.
“I couldn’t agree with you more. Not only are we involved with a number of associations that have this as a priority, but I am on a task force with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, looking at this element, along with others,” Stanford said. “There have got to be, in the future, more controls with some of this material, to make sure it is not only recyclable, but to look at wherever it can be reduced. We would all be better off.”
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