R.J. Burnside & Associates Limited has provided consulting engineering services to the Township of Southgate since 2001, when the planning process was initiated. In the February/March 2004, edition of Solid Waste & Recycling magazine, Lyle Parsons presented the solid waste management system for Southgate. This article is an update of the achievements of the system since that time.
In July 2003, the Township of Southgate, Ontario introduced the final stage of its strategic plan for solid waste management. The plan involved a new solid waste collection, transfer, processing and disposal program. By the end of that month, all residents where playing their part in the waste sorting program. This participation and other elements of the strategic plan significantly improved performance in short order.
Key features of the system include:
* Three 240-litre waste carts (blue recycle, green organics and grey waste cart), organics kitchen catcher, and an detailed information package for each property.
* A logo and slogan — “Sort Today Save Tomorrow” — created through a contest with prizes held in the Township. This logo is placed on the side of the collection truck and on each 40-yard waste container in the Township.
* Collection vehicles featuring an automated collection arm for tipping the carts into the waste collection truck with a 60/40 container split. This allows the collection of organics on a weekly basis as well as recyclables one week and residual waste the next week.
* Collection of an average of 600 carts per day, covering four collection zones, on a weekly basis. Three of the zones are mostly rural with a few hamlets spread throughout the Township. In Zone #4, the Village of Dundalk, as many as 1256 carts have been tipped on a single collection in one day in a recycle week.
* Access to a 360-litre recycle cart to contain volumes needed for larger families and small businesses.
* Active community involvement program including two major public meetings in advance of the program roll-out.
* Hiring of a Program Coordinator to implement the program, facilitate communications, handle public calls, and provide public education sessions with seniors groups, business groups, public meetings, schools (public, private, and Mennonite).
* Development of a communications program including newsletter to residents, Council meetings, information meetings, press reports, public surveys, etc.
* Reorganisation of the structure within the Township to provide needed staff and solid waste services and the creation of a new position for an Environmental Services Manager with reporting staff.
* Environics Research Survey to determine public opinion after roll-out of the program.
Preliminary weights of sample materials taken in the fall of 2003, indicated very high diversion rates. Prior to this date, the Township was achieving an average estimated rate of 20 per cent diversion via its recycling program. In the first full year of operations (2004) following the implementation of the new program, waste diversion rates from the cart collection reached 64 per cent. With all waste totals, including those of public drop-off/transfer stations, the diversion rate for 2004 was just over 54 per cent. Industrial, commercial and institutional (IC&I) waste is not high in this rural area and estimated at about five per cent of the total.
Burnside estimates that approximately 42 per cent of the waste stream in the Township is attributed to organics. Based on actual weights, 24 per cent of the organics were collected in 2004. It may be reasonable to attribute an addition two to five per cent organics to source separation programs by homeowners in their backyards. If the number is five per cent, this would increase the total percent diversion efforts of the Township to 59 per cent for total waste diversion and 69 per cent for the cart program. This is a significant increase from an average estimated 20 per cent waste diversion rate prior to implementation of the new program.
* Documented capability to collect waste from 1256 carts in 10 hours and 28 minutes driving 173 km. This translates to the tipping of one cart every 30 seconds.
* Improved safety for the vehicle collection operator as the operator never has to leave the cab to perform the operation functions of picking up the cart, tipping it, and returning it to its original place.
* Considerable savings in vehicle emissions since residents no longer have to commute great distances to recycle and dispose of their waste material. Burnside estimated that prior to 2003, the average household in Southgate was paying up to $425 in travel costs per year. Most of those costs and the associated environmental effects of the travel have now been minimized due to the new program benefits.
* In addition, the program provides Southgate residents with an efficient cart system that includes:
* A solid container for storing and disposing all day-to-day waste material.
* Convenient, easy to handle, and lightweight carts for moving.
* Secure in all weather conditions when placed out at the roadway on collection days.
* Two different styles of attachments for residents with long lanes or disabilities to pull waste carts to the end of their driveway behind a car, truck, ATV or garden tractor.
* The introduction of an inability pass for seniors or people with disabilities to get an exemption to dispose residual house waste at the transfer stations at no charge.
It is clear that waste diversion rates in the Township of Southgate have increased considerably with the new program. In fact, this was recently recognized by the Recycling Council of Ontario, which awarded the Township a Gold award for its recycling success. Positive program results and communication continues to encourage Southgate residents to new levels of activity and raise awareness. Burnside believes with enhanced system monitoring and a program of rewards and enforcement even higher diversion rates can be achieved by Southgate.
Lyle Parsons is VP Environment with R.J. Burnside & Associates Ltd. in Orangeville, Ontario. Contact Lyle at Lyle_Parsons@rjburnside.com