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Food scrap collection programs attain different results

The mid-September launch of food scrap collection to 12,000 homes in the eastern end of Markham represents the four...


The mid-September launch of food scrap collection to 12,000 homes in the eastern end of Markham represents the fourth introduction of such a service in the Golden Horseshoe area of southern Ontario.

In Markham’s case, the fourth week saw participation rates of 80 per cent — on par with Toronto’s 180,000 households (the largest program in North America).

Meanwhile, a recent Toronto Star article quotes a Durham Region official stating that participation in that part of the Greater Toronto Area is only at 40 per cent, after having peaked at 50 per cent.

A similar outcome has been observed in Niagara Region.

Markham participation is in fact up slightly from 75 per cent in Week Two. This is not surprising as once participation hits these higher levels peer pressure comes into play. Not so, however, if participants are in the minority. In this situation participation might well drop off, as it has in Durham.

The main reason for the difference in performance could be education and promotion, which experts say is key.

Markham’s “Mission Green” brand, while somewhat generic, has proven to be a rallying point. Meanwhile Toronto has linked green bin collection to the blue box and asked residents to “take the next step” in waste diversion, all of which has proven to be motivational.

Durham’s “Compost Happening Here” and Niagara’s “Curb Waste” programs appear to have failed to generate significant participation. They will have to closely monitor what’s happening in Markham and Toronto. Of note, Toronto and Markham have moved to bi-weekly residual collection while in Durham and Niagara, residual collection has remained with weekly. Differences in the collection and processing methods would not logically impact resident participation.

Written by Rod Muir, rodmuir@sympatico.ca


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