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Ottawa's 3-container limit for curbside garbage takes effect this fall


Ottawa residents will be limited to three containers of garbage every two weeks starting this fall, as the city looks to reduce the amount of waste heading to the Trail Road Landfill.

Council voted in June 2023 to limit households to three garbage bins every two weeks as part of a new curbside waste diversion plan.

A report for the environment and climate change committee says the new three garbage item limit will be in effect as of Monday, Sept. 30, with a three-month phased in-approach to the new cap on garbage items collected by staff.

Under the plan, collection staff will collect all the garbage items left at the curb in October, even if the three-garbage limit is exceeded. Staff say crews will record and leave a "custom non-compliance tag indicating the limit and how to properly participate in waste diversion programs."

Starting in November, at households exceeding the three-garbage item limit, staff will record and leave one item behind with custom non-compliance tags.

As of December, only three garbage items will be collected, with a non-compliance tag affixed to garbage items left at the curb.

A garbage item can be a garbage bag, a 140-litre container or bulky item that is set-out within the size and weight parameters outlined in the Solid Waste Management Bylaw. Staff say households can place multiple smaller bags in the 140-litre container.

The City of Ottawa is implementing the new three-item limit on household waste as part of a plan to extend the life of the Trail Road Landfill. The report warns the landfill could reach capacity between 2034 and 2035, "if changes aren't made to waste disposal habits."

Staff have said a new landfill would cost between $300 million and $500 million, and could take up to 15 years to be fully operational.

While Ottawa households will be limited to three containers or items of garbage every two weeks, there will be no limit on how much material you can place in the blue, black and green bin programs.

The average garbage set-out for households under the curbside pickup is 2.1 garbage items every two weeks, with the city say 85 per cent of households set out three items or less.

The city of Ottawa's landfill could soon reach capacity in 12-15 years. Last month, city council voted to limit the number of trash containers to three per household. Building a new landfill could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa)

Yellow bags for additional waste

Households that set out more than three items of garbage a week could be able to set out additional garbage in a yellow bag.

Staff say it is feasible for the city to leverage the existing Yellow Bag Program for curbside households to purchase and set out additional bags above the three-garbage item limit.

Bags will be sold in four packs for $17.60 plus tax, and would be available at all seven Client Service Centres, 10 Home Hardwares and one BMR.

Households would also be able to register for the Special Considerations Program, where diapers and incontinence products are accepted and are collected on the off week of garbage for registered households. Medical items, including casts, catheters, disposable pads, masks and dialysis waste would be accepted under the expanded program.

The City of Ottawa is finalizing the Solid Waste Master Plan, with council expected to approve the plan later this year. The plan will provide the "overall framework, direction and goals for solid waste management, diversion and reduction over the next 30 years," according to staff. Councillors have asked staff to explore waste-to-energy technology options as part of the Solid Waste Master Plan.

Communications plan

Staff say the City of Ottawa will launch a "comprehensive communications and engagement plan" to inform residents of the changes in garbage collection.

"Recognizing that the implementation of a firm three-garbage item limit is the first garbage-specific collection policy change since the shift to bi-weekly garbage collection in 2012, strong communications and community outreach are required and will be in place to guide residents through the policy change and support a successful rollout," staff say.

The plan will "focus on maximizing resident awareness of the program change" and provide support for households adjusting to waste disposal habits. The campaign will also look to increase participation in the existing recycling and diversion programs.

The environment and climate change committee will discuss the plans for the launch of the three-container limit on May 21. Top Stories

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