Clear trash bag policy gets mixed reviews

Proposed changes to a new garbage by-law have some citizens of the HRM talking. These new additions to by-law S600 would include: reducing bag limits from six to four, and replacing standard black garbage bags with clear ones.

Both changes aim to reduce the amount of compostable and recyclable waste going to landfills. The city estimates that about 30% of waste that goes into the black garbage bags does not belong there.

By Claire Stanbridge

Mandy McLellan, a student at NSCAD, recycles

Proposed changes to a new garbage by-law have some citizens of the HRM talking. These new additions to  by-law S600 would include: reducing bag limits from six to four, and replacing standard black garbage bags with clear ones.

 

Both changes aim to reduce the amount of compostable and recyclable waste going to landfills. The city estimates that about 30% of waste that goes into the black garbage bags does not belong there.

The adoption of clear plastic garbage bags is the biggest change under the proposed by-law. Citizens would also no longer be able to hide kitchen waste and recyclables in the black bags. However, not all of their waste will be on display. HRM will allow one small black “privacy bag” to be left curbside with the rest.

If the changes are approved, there will be a six -month education period that will include newsletters, and advertisements on TV, radio, and in newspapers. This period will also give suppliers an opportunity to restock with clear plastic garbage bags. The next six months will be treated as a grace period.

“I already recycle and compost, so this won’t really affect me,” says Marcia Hadfield, a fourth grade teacher living in central Halifax.

Others feel the by-law will be an inconvenience.

“This is really going to be a hassle. Honestly, I like just throwing everything in a garbage bag,” says Mandy McLellan, a student at NSCAD.

Mandy’s interview

Listen to McLellan discuss how the changes will affect her

HRM staff hope to educate citizens on how sorting is both easy and cost efficient. According to the press release, each cell of a landfill, where garbage is dumped, only lasts for about 3 years and costs $20 million to build.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) and the Valley Region have already implemented the clear bag program and have seen an increase in recycling and a decrease in garbage collection. The Halifax Regional Municipality is hoping to experience these same improvements.

More information can be obtained via the HRM website (http://halifax.ca/wrms/contact.html). The Public Hearing for the proposed changes is scheduled for March 8 at 6:00 pm in Council Chambers.