Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wheelie-bin system's debut proves 'deeply disappointing'

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Monday was Day 1 in Wolseley for the new containerized "wheelie bin" system. Our whole family was looking forward to seeing how the move to wheelie bins would work and how the blue and grey bins would assist the City of Winnipeg in meeting its diversion and recycling goals. The experience was deeply disappointing.

I had carefully read the instructions provided by the City of Winnipeg with the wheelie bins dropped off at our home. As an avid, lifelong recycler and as one of the founders of the Delta Recycling Society in Delta, B.C., I carefully reviewed Page 7 of the user guide with my family. My young children were happy and excited that we had nearly filled our 240-litre blue wheelie bin with only those recyclable items specified in the user guide.

The Delta Recycling Society established the first blue-box collection program in Western Canada in 1988. Because thinking and acting green continues to be a family matter, we watched for the "new" truck to see how the recyclable contents of our blue wheelie bin would be picked up and how the recyclables would be separated from the waste.

To our shock, the operators of the new service quickly dumped all of our carefully sorted recyclables out of the blue wheelie bin into the same truck as our garbage in the grey wheelie bin!

"What a waste of time," one of my children said.

"What was the point of all of that?" my other child said of our efforts to understand the user guide and sort recyclables into the blue wheelie bin.

Our children had previously looked forward to setting out our filled-to-the-top blue boxes on recycling day and were always happy to know our family recycled or composted considerably more than half of our household waste.

My children are genuinely saddened to see their commitment and efforts so starkly come to an abrupt end under the new system.

We noticed some of the blue wheelie bins along our lane had not been emptied into the waste truck but were left for recycling pickup. We looked inside and noticed only a few bottles and cans, which barely covered the bottom of the bins and which contained almost no paper or cardboard or the other recyclables described in the user guide. We also soon realized our one blue wheelie bin had contained more of the recyclables specified on Page 7 of the user guide than all of the combined contents of the blue wheelie bins that had been left in our lane without being emptied.

It is difficult to see how the City of Winnipeg will achieve its waste diversion goal when the operators of the new system are not properly trained to tell the difference between recyclables and garbage and apparently cannot or do not care to make a distinction between how they handle the contents of blue bins and grey bins.

Despite Monday being a civic holiday, the pickup in Wolseley was carried out as scheduled for the new system.

According to the information posted by the City of Winnipeg's water and waste department, the former practice of "sliding" the schedule of pickup days to the next business day following a holiday will no longer be practiced. Pickups will take place on the scheduled and now permanently fixed day of the week, including on almost all holidays. There is no collection on three holidays -- Remembrance Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. If these holidays fall on a weekday, the collection day may be one day later for that week only.

On another matter, I can confirm all of the autobins between Home and Canora streets and between Preston and Westminster avenues had not been picked up for the past two weeks and had not been picked up for more than three weeks prior to that. During the previous period, I had contacted 311 to address the situation, but it was not dealt with for nearly one further week.

I can also confirm the large community autobins were finally emptied on Monday. This means the autobins were only emptied three times over the span of the past seven scheduled pickups.

I also pointed out to the 311 operator the overflowing and reeking autobins had attracted large numbers of wasps and were supporting an unusual proliferation and increase in the size of wasp colonies, which has created a considerable health hazard for people with allergies to wasp stings.

Although I expressly requested a written explanation by email of the repeated delays in emptying the autobins, I have yet to receive any explanation whatsoever from the City of Winnipeg.

 

Michael Anderson is a Wolseley-area homeowner and committed recycler.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2012 A11

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