Understanding the new recycle and waste program

As town planners prepare to rollout a waste management and recycling program residents are just as curious to understand how it will work.

Illustration shows cart placement for the Town of Ponoka's new waste management program.

Illustration shows cart placement for the Town of Ponoka's new waste management program.

As town planners prepare to rollout a new waste management and recycling program with Green for Life, environmentally minded residents are just as curious to understand how it will work.

Questions coming from inquisitive residents relate to the cost, size of garbage cans, frequency of pick up and how the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse fits into the plan.

Donna Brinkworth, communications officer for the Town of Ponoka took some time to explain the ins and outs of the program, which starts Jan. 4, 2016.

One of the biggest changes to the program compared to the previous waste management program is the implementation of mandatory recycling. There are many Alberta communities that make recycling compulsory to reduce the amount of recyclable materials that make it to the landfill, said Brinkworth.

“We’re joining the communities around Ponoka who have the same program,” she said.

Part of the impetus behind the change is due to a requirement from the province for municipalities to reduce waste streams by 60 per cent. For Ponoka, the garbage to recycle ratio is higher than it should be, considering it does not have a mandatory recycle program, says Brinkworth. As the town’s contract with the previous company was ending, town planners looked at ways to reduce the waste going to the landfill.

Recycle options for residents

Residents will see an increase in their garbage fees to $6 per month to handle the recycling if they choose to go with the town.

The other option is to sign with the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse for the recycling program. Profit from the recycling goes directly to programming for clubhouse members, says Amanda Henderson-Kada, executive director.

The monthly cost for the program is $12 a month and existing or new customers will need to confirm with the clubhouse their desire to sign on otherwise residents will automatically be included in the Green For Life recycle program.

Henderson-Kada said her biggest concern is that no agreement has been signed between the town and clubhouse and she has had only one meeting on Oct. 29 with the town since the plan was approved in September.

Henderson-Kada says what the program has done for her members has improved their quality of life with the program. For more information call the clubhouse at 403-783-5810.

How it all works

Residents will receive two large garbage cans, one grey and one green, with wheels and a serial number as well as instructions on what can be accepted.

Pickups will occur every other week for garbage and every other week for recyclables. “As people maximize their household recycling, it is shown to minimize the amount of waste households produce,” explained Brinkworth.

Other municipalities have adopted a similar schedule due to the fact that landfill waste has been found to be reduced from 60 to 80 per cent, explained Brinkworth.

If residents opt in for the Green for Life program, they will need to purchase clear or clear blue bags for recyclables. A full list of what is acceptable is on the town website and on an ad on page 28 of this week’s newspaper.

The bins are designed to be lifted from the street by automated trucks and Brinkworth said one metre clearance around the bins is needed to collect the garbage.

Pickups will occur in three zones of town on three different days:

* Zone 1 is east of the Battle River,

*Zone 2 is between the river and Highway 2A,

* Zone 3 is west of Highway 2A.

The green yard carts will accept yard waste through the months of May 1 to the end of October.

What remains uncertain is how the town will know which residents have signed with the clubhouse and what the agreement will be with the clubhouse.