Jon Willing, Ottawa Citizen
The city is trapped in a green bin of confusion, not knowing how to get more people to scrape the guck from their plates into a bucket instead of a trash can.
After being shamed by Waste Watch Ottawa into addressing a ho-hum diversion rate, council’s environment committee on Tuesday held a question-and-answer session with staff about recycling and green bins.
The city is still having trouble helping people conquer their fear of the “yuck factor” in separating gooey organics from dry garbage, according to Kevin Wylie, the general manager of public works and environmental services.
Allowing people to use plastic bags, instead of only paper products, has been billed as one possible solution to increase the usage rate, but the city is still duking it out with Orgaworld over the 20-year green bin contract signed in 2008.
The legal tussle between the city and Orgaworld is over leaf and yard waste, but it’s getting in the way of other potential initiatives, such as using plastic bags.
“It boggles the mind that with an arbitrator ruling that essentially said the city was in the right that we’d be still here years later,” said Coun. David Chernushenko, chair of the environment committee.
“I’ll be blunt. It sucks.”
In 2014, the city’s auditor general exposed the poor planning leading up to the green bin contract. Taxpayers have been shelling out more money than necessary to process residential organics.
About 51 per cent of residents are using green bins for organic waste.
Chernushenko accepts that more people might find it easier to use the green bin if plastic bags were allowed, but he doesn’t believe it’s the only answer to improving usage rates.