Black bags garbaged

Eric Sparling
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April 30th last opaque pick-up


AMHERST – The black garbage bag’s days are numbered – in Amherst, at least.

April 30 will be the last day opaque bags will be picked up. Starting in May, bags must be clear.

“The province has a mandated goal of 300 kilograms…,” said Jason MacDonald, director of planning and development for the town. He was referring to a Nova Scotia plan for reducing waste diverted to land fills. The goal is 300 kg per person per year.

We’ve got a way to go. MacDonald said the town average is over 500 kg. Statistics from other municipalities in the province indicate clear bags lead to a 30-per cent drop in solid waste, according to the director.

“Literally, all we’ve changed is the colour of the bag,” said MacDonald. Residences will still have a six-bag maximum, but the bags must be clear. A small privacy bag is permitted for each of the six larger bags.

“It’s in legislation,” said the director. The town must comply with the provincial directive or face consequences – although the government in Halifax hasn’t told Amherst what the punishment would be, despite a request for clarification. One clear penalty, though, is that a fine can be levied if compost is put into landfill.

Terry Rhindress, who sits on town council, said the province could deny capital grants for the dump, too, if the community didn’t comply.

Rhindress isn’t the policy’s biggest cheerleader, but seems to be grudgingly behind it. His first choice would have been an incinerator instead of burial.

“I think we could have burned a lot of it,” said Rhindress. As for six clear bags, that’s one clear bag too many. He wanted each residence to be allowed a single opaque bag and five clear.

He acknowledged the message that reducing landfill waste saves money. Dumps that are filled up quickly are dumps that need to be replaced at public expense.

“If we don’t (reduce), there’ll be no dumps…not enough room.”

One sticking point that remains for Rhindress, though, is his belief there’s a double-standard: that residences are required to meet a more strict standard than restaurants. The latter are taking steps, but it’s taking a bit longer, according to Rhindress.

“They’re coming,” he said.

Geographic location: AMHERST, Nova Scotia, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • scott g
    April 28, 2012 - 21:29

    seems to while the rest of the county had to do this back in january while amherst was given an extened grace period because the county felt it was too much for the p[oor town of amherst to cope with all at once to deal with , and were i live my bag limit is only 4 , i think you folks need to suck it up and do your part already and the county needs to stop catering to the town of amherst .

  • flipx
    April 28, 2012 - 14:28

    Well put Fuz now counsel should mandate and regulate that all stores can only sell and provide for packing of goods clear bags within the town limits of Amherst or no clear bags at all. Fair is Fair what weapon of mass dump destruction could be lurking in a paper bag or a Zellers/Superstore/Sobyes etc. bag.

  • Doug
    April 27, 2012 - 18:15

    Our garbage laws are crazy. As far as I am concerned anything that can't be re-cycled is garbage period. What with all the seperation, all it does is cost the taxpayer buying this bag for that and another one for this item, if it is not going to be re-cycled it's my garbage, if you want to seperate it after you take it good do it.

  • towntaxpayer
    April 27, 2012 - 16:55

    1st world problems.... You should be thankful waste pickup is included in your taxes. All major retailers have adjusted their bag sections to allow for the requirement. Look at Truro...they received next to no warning about the change. You live in the greatest part of north america. Jeeze some

  • Jack
    April 27, 2012 - 14:37

    It has been my experience that the people who fear a change like this the most have the biggest reason to fear the change. I imagine these people have never sorted their recycle products and organics from their garbage. Now they must or their garbage will sit on their lawn until they do because the haulers will not pick it up. Don't forget sorting is not new, only the color of the bag. We should have been sorting for 10 years plus but lots are not.

  • lb
    April 27, 2012 - 13:28

    good post Fuzzy Bear ... this is long over due imo

  • Fuzzy Bear
    April 27, 2012 - 13:01

    Well Town Resident I'm not sure who your comments are directed to because neither Mike nor I were complaining about going to clear bags! In fact I have been using them for almost 2 months now. I did try them earlier but the clear leaf bags I had left over when they were banned were just not strong enough for anything heavy or sharp. I finally found some very good ones at Can. Tire that are clear and strong. If you read my comments again they were taking exception to the bullying tactic being used by the province and the "its not my idea (town response) but they (the provincial gov. ) are making us do it", for accomplishing their mandate. My beef is since we are being treated like children up here and we are already on a time out from them, short of an severe spanking what else is left? And PS... I only have 1 clear bag every 2 weeks so I think 6 clear bags of garbage is way way too many. That number could and should be reduced. OMI

  • Fuzzy Bear
    April 26, 2012 - 20:28

    “It’s in legislation,” said the director. The town must comply with the provincial directive or face consequences – although the government in Halifax hasn’t told Amherst what the punishment would be, despite a request for clarification. One clear penalty, though, is that a fine can be levied if compost is put into landfill. OMG.....we should be "a shakin "in our booties!!! let me guess...maybe we will be alienated from the provincial MLA cabinet...wait we already are! Oh maybe we will have higher gas prices in our neighbour 6 kms away or in fact the metropolitian area of Halifax. Nope that's true a fact....ahhh I know they will put a toll between us and our provincial capital and major health center in Halifax...gosh darn it....they already did that too. Then all that is left for them to threaten us with is treating us like second class citizens within the province. Dammmmmm now that I think about that we may already be there. Come on council have the "little round thing-a-ma gigglies" and tell these "a**h*les in Halifax that you have this issue under control which you do. Drive around Amherst anytime and you will see that recycling is alive and very well in Amherst. I see 6 blue bags on reclycling day to 1 regular black bag on residial day. Folks I actually did that drive to see. That tells me we are doing very well, maybe not as good as we can get but to mandate it by law is WRONG just WRONG! Council grow up and stand up for this town for a change. Town council we vote you in to your position not Halifax...remember that..... PS: Thanks Terry for showing some backbone and alternative thinking!!! Council the rest of you should take note!.

    • mike
      April 27, 2012 - 09:48

      Excellent, excellent commentary Fuzzy Bear. Best response that I have seen in a long time.

    • Town Resident
      April 27, 2012 - 10:56

      Seriously...people are whining about the colour of their garbage bag! Buy clear bags, and stop whining. People who don't want clear bags are people who are not separating properly and don't want their bags rejected. JMO Find something worthwhile to champion!