More blue-box pick­ups missed

City asks res­i­dents to leave their re­cy­clables out for pickup next day


If your blue boxes weren’t picked up on Wed­nes­day, leave them on the curb. Re­cy­cling trucks are sched­uled to pick them up on Thurs­day as the city deals with con­tin­ued de­lays from a new col­lec­tion con­trac­tor.

Emterra En­vi­ron­men­tal started a seven-year con­tract to col­lect re­cy­clables in the city on Nov. 1, and pick­ups have been de­layed ever since.

The north end had many streets missed last Thurs­day, with pickup con­tin­u­ing Fri­day and an ex­tra run added Satur­day to fin­ish the job.

On Tues­day, many streets were missed again in the cen­tral area of the city, and on Wed­nes­day more streets were missed (prompt­ing the city to is­sue a news re­lease about how they’d be picked up Thurs­day).

City waste di­ver­sion man­ager Dave Dou­glas wasn’t avail­able for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

But he said last week that some of the de­lays are be­cause peo­ple are im­prop­erly sort­ing their re­cy­clables, mix­ing pa­per with con­tain­ers (which are sup­posed to be in sep­a­rate blue boxes) or putting their re­cy­clables in clear bags (which isn’t ac­cept­able since Emterra lacks me­chan­i­cal means of de-bag­ging).

Dou­glas said the city has or­dered Emterra to be more fas­tid­i­ous about the rules than the pre­vi­ous con­trac­tor.

As a con­se­quence, im­prop­erly sorted blue boxes are be­ing tagged and left be­hind on the curb for cit­i­zens to re-sort and set out again the fol­low­ing week. Bags are be­ing left be­hind, too.

Mean­while, Emterra is deal­ing with sev­eral un­re­lated chal­lenges, Dou­glas said, in­clud­ing new driv­ers, new routes, me­chan­i­cal is­sues in some of their trucks and the first snow­fall of the sea­son last week.

Dou­glas said at least a dozen streets were missed in the north end on Fri­day, but Coun. Dean Pap­pas said at a com­mit­tee meet­ing Tues­day that fig­ure was un­der­stated.

He said it was more like 60 or

70 streets missed, and that it’s not ac­cept­able.

“I know there’s grow­ing pains,” Pap­pas said Tues­day, but he added that he doesn’t think cit­i­zens are be­ing wellserved so far by Emterra.

Pap­pas also said many down­town busi­nesses set out their con­tain­ers in large bags as they have for years, only to have those left on the curb.

It’s un­fair to ask times­trapped busi­ness own­ers to bring their re­cy­clables to the city de­pot on Pido Road if they don’t have space to store them un­til the fol­low­ing week, Pap­pas added.

He said he’s wor­ried peo­ple will just throw out their re­cy­clables with the trash, if it’s not picked up.

“We can’t leave it at the curb — it will end up as land­fill,” Pap­pas said.

But Coun. Gary Bald­win, the city’s waste management chair, pointed out at the meet­ing that the city sells re­cy­clables — and that in­creas­ingly, the global mar­ket buys only clean, un­con­tam­i­nated ma­te­rial (mean­ing no stray cans mixed in with the pa­per, for ex­am­ple).

Bald­win said the city needs to con­tinue to ask cit­i­zens to do their part to re­cy­cle ac­cord­ing to guide­lines avail­able on the city’s web­site.

He said that as city staff con­tin­ues to “ed­u­cate” cit­i­zens about proper re­cy­cling, peo­ple will come to com­ply.

Although Emterra has a track record of late pick­ups in Ni­a­gara Re­gion, and in 2018 paid $585,000 in penal­ties to the re­gional gov­ern­ment, Dou­glas said last week it’s com­mon for a new con­trac­tor to ex­pe­ri­ence glitches and he doesn’t ex­pect late pick­ups to per­sist.

The city hired Emterra last year af­ter the pre­vi­ous firm’s con­tract ran out and Emterra of­fered the least ex­pen­sive op­tion.

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