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.