News / Halifax

Councillors ask for public hearing on proposal to make clear garbage bags mandatory

A proposal to make clear garbage bags mandatory in HRM will go to a public hearing – in part to get some, well, clarity about the idea.

“A public hearing ... would provide a lot of technical clarity that we currently don't have,” said Coun. Waye Mason during regional council’s Committee of the Whole discussion Tuesday. “At that point we will have a much more specific idea about how this would be implemented.”

The recommendation allows for one opaque bag inside each clear bag, and also reduces the number of bags allowed for bi-weekly pickup from six to four per household.

It’s one of nine proposals arising from HRM’s exhaustive solid waste system review, and the city’s CAO said it’s intended to increase recycling and composting.

“These are policy opportunities to drive further source separation and they are used broadly across the country to focus people more on source separation as opposed to just disposal,” explained Richard Butts.

But councillors had questions about the logistics of implementation, ranging from treatment of animal waste – which many residents currently gather in opaque plastic bags – to the permissibility of conventional garbage bins.

Several councillors also suggested the proposal targets residents who are already doing their part.

“We just heard that 75 per cent of residents have two or less (garbage) bags, so I really question the clear bag in the first place,” said Coun. Russell Walker.

Coun. Jennifer Watts said there’s reason enough to at least initiate the public hearing process.

“It will provide us with some further uptake on an issue that we've just heard today about the millions of dollars that we're spending in this area,” she said.

Council did approve recommendations to eliminate boxboard as a green bin material; to require the use of kraft paper bags for leaf and yard waste; and to ban grass clippings from green bins.

“It reduces the amount of tonnage...reduces the cost of collection and the cost at the processing facilities,” said Butts.

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