Recycling looking up so far: Brown

After just one week of “bag tags” on garbage, it looks like the town already may be seeing increased recycling among residents.
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said this morning that he’s compared the weights of total loads from “blue box” pickups last Monday and Tuesday with the pickup days of the week before, and found a 70 percent increase in the tonnage.
“They [Asselin Transportation] have never filled a recycling truck in one day,” remarked Brown, adding the contractor picking up “blue boxes” for the town reported they had one-and-a-half loads of recyclables last Monday.
As well, about 70 percent more paper products were put in “blue boxes” than the previous week while the amount of containers (both plastic and aluminum) jumped by 100 percent.
While it may not be directly attributed to “bag tags,” Brown also noted the month-end report at the landfill showed the total tonnage of waste dumped there in May was down 90 tonnes from April.
“It looks like things are going the way we wanted,” said Brown, adding he’ll have a better picture of increased recycling after he can collect data from a full week of “blue box” pickups.
(Due to the Victoria Day holiday, the “blue box” pickup schedule has been broken up so that last week, some residents saw pickups on Monday and Tuesday while other residents will see pickups this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday).
“I know more people are going to recycle. I’ve seen it [in Marathon],” said Brown.
In related news, the town issued a total of 135 non-compliance notices to residents last week, telling them their garbage would not be picked up for one reason or another under the new waste management bylaw.
Of these 135, 112 were because the bags weren’t tagged while 16 were in improper containers. Another five exceeded the 40-pound weight limit while two were because residents had put out “non-collectible” waste.
“I think that number [135] is pretty reasonable,” said Brown, noting that amounts to about three percent of all those who received garbage pickup through the town that week.
“The complaints are part of the process. I think we’ll see fewer this week,” he added. “When people learn why their garbage wasn’t picked up, they probably won’t do it again.”
Brown admitted he’s heard some negative feedback from people who got non-compliance notices.
One local man who called the Times last week was steaming after he put out five bags last Wednesday morning—four with tags and one without (his one “free” one)—only to find that one bag was not picked up.
A notice had been left behind stating he had not put a “bag tag” on one of his bags, and the bag weighed over the 40-pound weight limit.
Not only did the bag in question have a tag on it, stressed the resident, but he weighed the bag himself and found it was only 34 pounds.
He said he inquired to Public Works as to whether the sanitation workers actually had a scale on the truck when they picked up the garbage from residents, only to find out they did not.
“They can pick and choose what they decide is 40 pounds without a weigh scale,” he remarked. “It’s ridiculous.
“If they want us to follow the rules, they’ll have to do it, too,” he continued. “They want to enforce a rule, but they have no way of justifying it without a scale.”
Brown noted the weight of the bag is a judgment call the contractor has to make during pickups, and that some margin of error—either over or under the weight limit—does exist.
But he added the bottom line is common sense. “If they can’t lift it off the ground, they won’t pick it up,” he remarked.