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Get ready to bag AND tag your curbside trash as city considers ways to limit excess waste

Photo: The humble recycling bin, which Ottawa residents may need to maximize their use of by 2024 or face additional fees.

In an effort to make more efficient use of what little space is left in the Trail Road landfill, the city may put a hard limit on how much trash residents can put out for curbside pickup.

The city is planning out how to manage waste over the next 30 years, as it develops the new Solid Waste Master Plan. One part of that plan is what to do about the dwindling Trail Road landfill, which is expected to reach its capacity in the next 13 to 15 years, per a city news release.

One potential policy, which will be considered at the Environment and Climate Change Committee on June 5, is a cap of 55 items for curbside garbage pickup per year (“pay-as-you-throw”). Residents would be given 55 tags that they must attach to items for pickup, and those who need more tags would have to buy them for $3 each.

“This system is more commonly known as tag-a-bag, where garbage is treated as a utility,” a city news release said. “Like hydro, water and natural gas, households would pay based on how much they use the program. It also offers flexibility for varying amounts of garbage generated week-to-week, and for circumstances when residents need to set out more garbage than their annual allotment.”

There would be no limit to how much residents can set out for recycling and green bin pickup. The city said 55 tags per year is around the household average for garbage disposal of two items biweekly.

“Pay-as-you throw models are used by 132 other municipalities in Ontario, all of which have seen increased waste diversion and reduced tonnage to their landfills. The proposed policy is estimated to reduce garbage tonnage by up to 19 per cent per capita in year one and up to 28 per cent in year five, and increase the curbside waste diversion rate by up to six per cent,” the city said.

If approved, the policy would be in place by Q2 2024.

For more information, the staff report is available online online, and the June 5 committee meeting will be streamed online.

Visit ottawa.ca/wasteplan for further updates and consultation opportunities for the Solid Waste Master Plan.