Bag limits will soon be reduced at Muskoka’s waste drop-off facilities.
Starting April 4, the number of garbage bags you can drop off for free every week is going from three bags to two.
It comes as the district works towards a garbage diversion rate of 60 per cent, up from its 2021 rate of 35 per cent. Neighbouring Simcoe County averaged about 64 per cent in 2020, the second highest in Ontario, according to a report to the Engineering and Public Works committee Wednesday.
Stephanie Mack, Director of Waste Management and Environmental Services, told committee that many high-performing municipalities achieve those rates with “very aggressive bag limits,” often limited to one free curbside bag per week, with no free bags at drop-off facilities.
Mack also noted that many Muskoka residents do not have curbside pickup, and that the large seasonal resident population poses a challenge from a communication standpoint.
The Rosewarne Landfill grew by about 1420 tonnes less last year than in 2020, which Mack says is partially thanks to improvements in compaction. At its current rate, the landfill is projected to run out of space by 2038, an improvement over last year’s projection of 2036.
Mack said diversion is the best way to delay that date.
“If we improve our diversion rate by five per cent, we’re going to see a drastic improvement in lengthening the lifespan of the landfill,” said Mack, referencing the report. “So I hope that’s a little bit of encouragement that some of the hard work that we’re going to do over the next few years will make an improvement.”
That five per cent yearly increase would extend the landfill’s lifespan to 2049, according to the report. Factoring in two per cent population growth, the end-of-life goes to 2043.
According to Mack, a study will start this year to look at other options for expanding the capacity of the landfill, such as buying shredding equipment and optimizing the current space.
“The reality is, the more we recycle, the more we compost, the less taxes will have to go up,” said John Klinck, District Chair. “There is a direct financial relationship between the amount we may compost and the value received by the taxpayers in deferring or hopefully eliminating the need to raise taxes.”
With organics diversion also set to be expanded this year, Mack said new composting infrastructure is expected to be installed at district waste drop-off sites after the frost clears, and they’re currently working out the type of green bin to be used.
Councillor Robert Lacroix noted that communication is also an issue, as many residents do not actually know what qualifies as organic waste, or where to find that information. You can find a list of acceptable organics on the district’s website.