City considers waste reduction plan to extend life of landfill site – Brantford Expositor

The city needs to reduce the amount of garbage that goes into its landfill.

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About 85,000 tonnes of waste is sent to the Mohawk Street landfill site each year. At that rate, the landfill will have reached its capacity by 2064.

“The landfill is the city’s most critical waste management asset,” Selvi Kongara, Brantford’s director of environmental services, told councillors at an operations committee meeting this week. “Landfill sites are extremely difficult and expensive to replace.”

To extend the life of the landfill, which opened around 1965, the city is developing a long-term strategy to divert residential waste in stages from the current 34 per cent to 70 per cent or higher by 2050. Kongara said that will “set the path towards the ultimate goal of zero waste generation in the future.”

The reduction will be done by a combination of waste avoidance, reuse, composting – with the implementation of a green bin program for organics and food waste – and recycling.

The plan sets waste diversion targets over the next 28 years – 40 per cent by 2025, 50 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 70 per cent by 2050.

Kongara said several communities are close to reaching “zero waste,” defined as the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse and recovery of products, packaging and materials. She cited the U.S. cities of San Francisco and Tampa, both of which are at a landfill diversion rate of about 80 per cent. Closer to home, Durham Region is at about 62 per cent, she said.

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“We can use some of their existing practices,” said Kongara. “It’s do-able.”

Key to reducing the amount of garbage going to landfill is a “shift in priorities and change in people’s behaviour,” councillors were told.

A typical city household currently sets out 1.6 bags of garbage a week. Of that, about half could be diverted, including three per cent leaf and yard waste, 36 per cent household food waste and 12 per cent recyclable paper, plastic, metal and glass.

The city is currently looking at two dates to implement a green bin program – Nov. 1, 2023, and Jan. 1, 2025. Kongara said a report is being prepared related to cost of the program.

Other proposed measures to reduce landfill waste include:

• The phase-in of a two-bag limit from five for household garbage;

• Transition, by 2025, of the management of the blue box recycling program from municipalities to the producers of plastic and other packaging;

• Garage collection every two weeks instead of weekly.

• Landfill bans and restrictions;

• And exploration of new technology and systems.

There will be ongoing community education and outreach about waste reduction, said Kongara. A survey about waste reduction conducted through Let’s Talk Brantford, the city’s online engagement portal, drew 237 responses. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents said they support a goal of 70 per cent waste diversion by 2050, and 87 per cent said they support the introduction of a green bin program.

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City staff have submitted a request for $400,000 in 2023 to hire a consultant, who will help complete the long-term waste reduction strategy. A curbside waste audit will be done this year to determine the types and quantities of residential waste and recyclable materials are set out by residents.

“Now we have a vision,” said Mayor Kevin Davis of the solid waste plan. “If we don’t have one, we’re not going to do it.”

But Davis said he believes the plan may be “a bit conservative and could be moved up 10 years.”

Coun. Joshua Wall said action by council is necessary.

“We know some of this stuff is going to cost some money up front, but the cost of a new landfill is much higher,” he said. “The decisions we make for the next generation are the most important.”