In 2003 the Township of Southgate, Ontario launched its new solid waste collection, transfer, processing and disposal program. Southgate, located in Grey County about two hours north of Toronto, serves a mostly rural community. It largest urban area is Dundalk with a population of approximately 1,500. The new system reduces costs, provides more equitable public service and is more environmentally sustainable than its predecessor.
The Solid Waste Committee Chairman and the Council have shown great leadership in the implementation of the new system. The new program is the result of a planning process that Southgate initiated in 2001 when it contracted Burnside to review its system. Its three landfill sites had only three or four years of approved disposal capacity left, and shipped some waste to an adjacent township at relatively high costs. Only the residents of Dundalk received curbside waste collection; everyone else had to travel to local landfills or transfer stations, which sometimes represented a 46-km round trip. In 2001 the recycling programs only diverted 15 to 24 per cent of waste from disposal.
Burnside developed and evaluated over 30 different solid waste options, including contracted and municipally-owned and operated systems. Additional options included complete closure of sites and shipment to another site, as well as the existing system.
The new system
Southgate’s new system can potentially divert up to 77 per cent of waste through a combination of recycling and composting. If residents and businesses participate, this high diversion rate will extend the life the key landfill at Egremont to 2070. Egremont Landfill is now the main site for disposal and recycling facilities, and has been designed to the latest environmental standards. A new site entrance and public drop-off station has been built along with an area for windrow composting. Most recyclables are shipped to Guelph’s recycling facility.
Initial results are exciting. Sample weights collected for several weeks just after program implementation indicate that an estimated 70 per cent diversion rate is being achieved already.
At the same time as the program is more equitable, the cost per household will drop from $161 for the previous system to just over $120 per year. These costs include collection, carts, transfer facilities, roll-off truck and bin purchase, as well as operating costs for the landfill sites for their remaining lives, including post-closure care.
Starting in May 2003, residents and business owners were required to separate their waste into four different types: recyclable materials, organic/compostable materials, residue for disposal and HHW. The “four-stream system” was necessary because in order to hit diversion rates organic waste had to be dealt with. A simple ban on organics disposal was considered that would have required residents to home compost or use private suppliers, etc. However, the local government felt other problems could develop. People deliver HHW to a depot in Owen Sound.
For sorting, each small business and household was supplied with three new IPL carts (selected via competitive tender). No carts are required for hazardous waste. Extra carts can be purchased by those who produce higher waste quantities. Almost 8,000 carts were supplied and a database of their distribution was developed.
The Township was divided into four waste collection routes. Waste material is picked up weekly on different days for each route, with recyclables and waste for disposal collected on alternating weeks. Organics are picked up weekly.
To help ensure high participation, two weeks before the first pickup residents received a clear, simple collection schedule along with their new carts and information developed by Burnside about the materials that can be put in them. (The Township was nominated for an award for this material by the Recycling Council of Ontario.)
Since the new system includes a roll-off truck and 40-yard bin system for the transfer and shipment of materials, enhanced waste services can be considered in the future for larger commercial, institutional and industrial customers.
Lyle Parsons is vice president, environment, at R.J. Burnside & Associates Ltd. in Orangeville, Ontario. Email Lyle at Lyle_Parsons@rjburnside.com