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Amherst may switch to two-stream recycling

Residents in Amherst and other Cumberland County municipalities may soon have to change how they sort recyclables.
Residents in Amherst and other Cumberland County municipalities may soon have to change how they sort recyclables. - Submitted

Because of fire at Little Forks recycling facility

AMHERST – Amherst residents may have to start sorting their recyclable materials.

Since recycling began in this community about 20 years ago residents have been able to put their paper, empty cans, bottles and plastic containers into the same recycling bag.

But, with the recent fire that destroyed the sorting building at the Little Forks Landfill site in September, the Cumberland Joint Services Management Authority has indicated that practice – known as single stream collection – may have to come to an end.

That is because the authority no longer has the capability of processing recyclable materials and is now shipping those materials to Scotia Recycling Ltd. in Kentville, where dual stream collection, in which people put all fibre material – paper, cardboard, boxboard – in one plastic bag and containers – plastics, glass, tin cans, etc. – in another bag, is the norm.

Several other areas of the province also use dual stream collection, including Inverness, Halifax Regional Municipality, Queens County and Yarmouth, authority spokesman Stephen Rayworth said in a presentation to Amherst council’s committee of the whole meeting on Monday.

The benefits of using dual stream collection include increased sorting at source, material is not co-mingled so there is less chance of contamination, the total net cost of collection and processing is about 20 per cent cheaper according to an Ontario study, and the area would be compatible with other areas of the province, Rayworth said.

Negative impacts include the potential for decreased diversion due to less participation as a result of people having to do more sorting at the source and collecting could be more costly because collectors may have to use split trucks, with one section of the truck handling the fibre and the other the containers, he said.

Current collectors do not have split trucks.

If the dual stream collection is to go ahead, all three municipal units in Cumberland County would have to agree so the switchover would be co-ordinated, Rayworth said.

The switchover would include a six-month education program that would include radio and newspaper advertisements, a social media blitz, visits to commercial sites and information sessions.

At the end of six months, the authority would begin enforcing the rules and that could include rejection of the recyclables.

Rayworth said the authority is recommending the switch, but it is up to the individual municipal units to change their bylaws and collection contracts if it is to happen.

The fire also had an impact on the authority’s revenues and expenses. While it has saved some money because it had to lay off most of its staff, it now has $70,000 in transportation costs not anticipated and a loss of $400,000 in revenue from selling the recyclable material.

“CJSMA only has one option to close the gap between revenues and expenses,” the authority’s David Scott said. “Tipping fees will have to be raised.”

New tipping fees have not been approved by the authority, but are being seriously considered and would not become effective until April 2018.

Amherst town council did not take any action, but will be studying the dual stream proposal and will make be making a decision in the near future.

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