You are here

Waste Diversion

                       

                               Towards 70%

 

In order to begin moving toward the waste diversion target of 70% by 2023, work has begun on the development of a Waste Diversion Plan which will provide a long-term roadmap for Saskatoon’s waste management programs and recommend policies and initiatives. As part of 25 targets included in the City’s Strategic Plan the waste diversion target (70% diversion by 2023) will measure success in environmental stewardship through increasing the percentage of waste that is recycled, reused, or composted.

 

YXE Talks Trash

​Interested in seeing the latest updates on the City of Saskatoon's public engagement activities on Waste Diversion?

Subscribe for Updates

 

How are we doing?

In 2017, 23% of the waste handled by the City was diverted from disposal through programs such as the curbside and multi-unit residential recycling programs, the subscription food, yard and garden waste collection program, recycling and compost depots and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off events.

Saskatoon Waste Diversion Rate
  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 ...2023
Diversion Rate Target (%) 15.0 19.6 17.3 18.4 22.7 22.5 21.0 21.8 22.8 70

Saskatoon’s diversion rate is second lowest when benchmarked against other Canadian cities.

 

How Will We Get There? The Waste Diversion Plan

In order to begin moving toward the waste diversion target of 70% by 2023, work has begun on the development of a Waste Diversion Plan which will provide a long-term roadmap for Saskatoon’s waste management programs and recommend policies and initiatives.  

The development of the strategy involves three main phases:

Phase 1: Considerations - What is possible?

Waste Characterization - What's in the garbage?

Download the Waste Characterization Study - Summary of Key Results

      Single Family Residential: What's in the black cart?

   Multi-family residential: What's in the waste bin?

77% of waste sampled in residential black carts could be diverted from the landfill if new programs for diversion are made available.  In particular, 58% could be diverted by expanding organics programs and 61% of waste sampled in multi-unit residential waste containers could be composted (40%) or recycled.

Industrial, commercial and institutional: What's in the waste bin?

According to representative sampling, 56% of the waste generated by Industrial, Commercial and Institutional organizations could be composted or recycled. 

80% of waste sampled from loads self-hauled to the City Landfill could be diverted for composting or recycling. Up to 94% of construction and demolition waste currently being delivered to landfills in the Saskatoon region could be diverted at a recovery park at the Saskatoon Waste Management Centre.

Waste Opportunities Report

Download the Waste Opportunities Report

The Waste Opportunities Report provides a potential roadmap for Saskatoon’s waste management programs and recommends a schedule of policies and initiatives that Council could adopt to achieve full implementation. Shortlisted items include modifying the approach to financing solid waste (waste as a utility); changes to the Waste Bylaw; modifying collection frequency; disposal ban(s); a material recycling facility at the landfill; city-wide organics program for residents; enhanced data management systems; and ongoing education and awareness. 

Policy Approaches

Waste as a Utility

The City is researching the expansion of the Waste Services Utility to potentially include the addition of a utility fee for waste management services. 

Waste Services Utility Design Options Report

Waste Utility Presentation 

Program Approaches

Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) Strategy

There are approximately 6,276 ICI properties in Saskatoon which consist mainly of food, automotive, retail, and personal care services. The ICI locations are spread throughout the city and employ approximately 83,280 people on full time, part time and seasonal basis.  Industrial, commercial, and institutional waste makes up 66% of total regional waste in Saskatoon.  It is estimated that 22% of ICI waste is recyclable and 28% is organic waste.

Organics (City-Wide)

Approximately 32% of total regional waste is organic. Keeping organic waste out of the landfill reduces the strain on garbage collection systems and increases the lifespan of landfills. It avoids the creation of harmful greenhouse gases and leachate that occurs when organic matter breaks down in landfills.

Organics Opportunities Report

Organics Fact Sheet

Phase 2: Community Engagement - What is Supported?

Many of the topics within the waste diversion plan will require significant community conversations and engagement.  Engagement activities at this stage could include the establishment of numerous stakeholder-focused working groups and include activities such as a series of workshops/forums, surveying and on- and offline discussions. The goal of waste diversion engagement is to help residents and businesses understand waste diversion challenges and provide input into prioritizing potential solutions.  The output from waste diversion engagement will be a comprehensive report which outlines Saskatoon’s waste diversion options for Council’s future consideration. Public outreach and education will continue through the design phase if City Council chooses to advance toward implementation. 

​Interested in seeing the latest updates on the City of Saskatoon's public engagement activities on Waste Diversion?

Phase 3: Decision Making - What is Justified?

Based on input from the Waste Diversion Engagement Report, and input from project stakeholders, the City of Saskatoon will develop a comprehensive Waste Diversion Plan for Council’s consideration.

Council Report: Recommended Changes to Waste Management in Saskatoon (June 2018)

On June 25, 2018 City Council approved the recommendations brought forward by the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services. Recommendations include:

  • the development of a Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) waste utility for curbside single-family residents where fees will be based on cart size (lower prices for smaller carts);
  • the development of a city-wide organics program featuring a single green cart for co-mingled food and yard waste; and
  • no changes to the existing recycling program.

The full report and all attachments can be found here: Recommended Changes to Waste Management in Saskatoon  

More details on these programs will be presented in September 2018.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

City-Wide Organics Program
Why Organics?

What do you mean by 'organics'?  

The term 'organics' is used to describe materials that breakdown naturally through decomposition and can be made into compost, such as food and yard waste. Food does not have to be grown organically in order to be consider an organic waste material.   

Why is the City of Saskatoon looking at expanding its organics programs and policies to reduce the amount of food and yard waste going to the landfill? 

When organic materials (food and yard waste) end up in the landfill, they are mixed with garbage and quickly buried in an airless environment. But because organics need air to decompose properly, they do not turn into soil or compost. Instead, they release methane gas and create garbage fluids, called leachate. Methane is a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide and leachate needs to be managed under strict environmental regulations. Although some of the methane is captured as landfill gas and converted into energy, the system at our landfill only captures approx. 70% of the methane produced by 1/3 of the landfill, while the remainder is released into our atmosphere. 

By placing items that are not garbage into the landfill, we fill it up unnecessarily. A new landfill would be very expensive to build and operate, challenging to locate, and would have a large environmental impact. To prevent the need for a new landfill, we all need to do our part to put waste in the right place. 

Organic material, when processed properly, can add value by creating compost and/or energy. Valuable resources such as organics do not belong in the landfill. 

How much organic material is currently being landfilled?  

32% of Saskatoon’s total landfilled waste is organics (food and yard waste); this includes 36,600 tonnes from residential sources and 41,700 tonnes from Industrial, Institutional, or Commercial Sources.   

58% of single-family residential garbage consists of organics (food and yard waste), while multi-unit residential garbage contains 40% organics, and businesses (Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional) garbage contains 27%. 

What does an organics program look like? How could it be implemented? 

No decisions have been made. The City is exploring numerous options for the collection and processing of food and yard waste, based on feasibility, effectiveness, and best practices from other jurisdictions.   

The options currently being considered for collections include:  

  1. Direct self-haul whereby residents and businesses drop off their organic waste at a facility; or 
  2. Contracted collection whereby organic waste is collected from the curb, using either bags or carts. 

The options currently being considered for processing include:  

  1. Passively aerated and turned composting;  
  2. Aerated composting; or 
  3. Anaerobic digestion and thermal systems.  

Depending on the processing option selected, materials may need to be separated by either the source (i.e. by residents, businesses) or by the processor. 

A full description and analysis is provided in the Organics Opportunities Report – Attachment 4 – Collections and Processing Considerations.   

How do residents feel about an organics program?  

According to preliminary results from the Waste and Recycling survey completed by Insightrix in July 2017, 79% of residents somewhat or strongly support a city-wide food and yard waste collection for all households.  

What other municipalities have organics programs? 

Organics programs exist in most cities across Canada.  Saskatoon is one of only two cities with no city-wide curbside collection program for yard waste and one of only five without a food waste collection program (out of 30 Canadian cities with populations over 150,000).  

Saskatoon and Regina are the only cities without a city-wide curbside yard waste collection program. Saskatoon, Regina, London, Winnipeg, and Quebec City do not have a city-wide curbside food waste collection program.  

Saskatoon is the only city in Canada with a subscription program for food and yard waste.  

What if we just started with an organics pilot program? 

Many municipalities proceed with a pilot in advance of implementing a city-wide Curbside Organics Program.  For instance, Calgary, Red Deer, and Region of Waterloo are three recent programs that conducted pilots in advance of a city-wide program.   

A pilot, or phased approach, could help build support for the program as it would allow time for residents to get used to the idea if coupled with a communications program. Additionally, a pilot would help build confidence in an organics business plan, program options, and feasibility. Benefits of a pilot allow the City to test operating assumptions (such as route capacity); better understand attitudes/ behaviours; and test different cart options and technology. The major drawback of a pilot is that it’s time and resource intensive, although funding options may be available to offset those costs.  

Organics Opportunities Report – Attachment 5 provides a discussion on the necessity of a pilot project in Saskatoon.  

Don't we have a subscription-based Green Cart Program? Isn't that enough? 

The Green Cart Program has grown significantly since 2015 and subscribers now constitute 11% of single-family households.  However, it is financially unsustainable as currently designed and is not likely to divert more than 5,000 tonnes of the residential sectors’ 36,600 tonnes in the next 10 years. 

The current subscription Green Cart Program is limited in its ability to achieve meaningful organics diversion from the residential sector compared to a city-wide program for the following reasons: 

  • It is voluntary, with only 11% of single family households currently subscribing, approximately 2,500 tonnes was diverted through this program in 2016. 
  • The financial model is broken, with rates set too low and a number of program design challenges making it extremely difficult to plan operations and expenditures. 
  • It is inefficient compared to a city-wide program. 

Why don’t you just ban organics from the landfill? 

Organics disposal bans are one method for increasing dversion and have been implemented in many places across Canada for both residents and businesses to encourage increased use of existing organics programs (both private and public).  Bans are not typically a first step for encouraging residential organic diversion as residents require opportunities to divert their waste (such as a city-wide Green Cart Program) in order to comply. Bans are most effective when used to encourage businesses to use existing organics facilities.   

Organics bans are often implemented by a provincial or regional level of government as seen in Metro Vancouver and Nova Scotia, with Ontario and Quebec planning organic bans in the near future.  The City of Calgary plans to ban food and yard waste from City landfills by 2019 in conjunction with its new city-wide Green Cart Program; this has required a high level of collaboration between the City and the waste management industry. 

City-wide bans of any material can be challenging due to the potential for this material to be taken to other regional landfills not under the direct control of the City, or illegally dumped.  In addition, there are administrative, enforcement, and educational implications to be considered in order to enact a successful ban.   

Don't we have a methane capture plant in our landfill? 

Yes, some of the methane is captured as landfill gas and converted into energy; however, the system at our landfill only captures approx. 70% of the methane produced by 1/3 of the landfill, while the remainder is released into our atmosphere. 

While landfill gas recovery is a method to deal with the organic materials already in landfills, diverting organic materials such as food and yard waste from landfills (using composting technologies) will reduce the production of methane in the first place. 

Composting

I already home compost. Why isn’t that enough? 

Backyard composting is a cost-effective method of reducing waste. Most communities promote home composting, while also providing curbside services to achieve efficient and larger-scale waste diversion.  Saskatoon provides home composting support for residents which includes $20 rebates for compost bins as well as the Compost Coach training and education program which includes free workshops, education at trade shows and events, home visits, a compost hotline, online information, videos, and marketing to promote composting.  Any city-wide collection program will need to consider the impact it may have on home composters.   

According to the Waste and Recycling Survey, 21% of people say they compost their yard waste and 24% say they compost their food waste at home.  

What are the benefits of compost?  

Adding compost to soil in lawns, gardens, and other landscaping improves the ability of the soil to retain moisture, resist erosion, retain nutrients, and optimize fertility for plants to help with drought resistance.  Studies have also found that compost can suppress weed growth and the development of diseases. Use of compost in landscaping may also allow for reduced use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which rely on greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels for production.   

What about mice? Won't composting cause problems with rodents? 

Composting systems can be managed in ways that discourage pests, such as rodents. Many pests are attracted to food scraps and wet yard waste.  To reduce pests, keep these materials covered and enclosed.  Using a layer of dried leaves, newsprint or cardboard before adding food can make your bin more animal-resistant. 

Set the bin out on each collection date and store in a cool, ventilated area.  You can reduce bin odours by sprinkling a small amount of vinegar or baking soda into your cart.  You could also try letting yard waste dry before placing it in your cart.  More tips can be found on the City’s website under yard food waste. 

Use a more animal-resistant compost bin, avoid adding foods that attract animals (such as meat, bones, and dairy products), and/or use methods such as trench composting. 

Where can I find out more information about composting? 

For more information on home composting and troubleshooting, please contact the Compost Hotline at 306-931-3249 or compost@swrc.ca or www.Saskatoon.ca/composting. 

What would the compost generated through this program be used for? 

Compost from our compost depots has been used to keep Saskatoon parks and community gardens healthy and beautiful.  As more compost is generated, more uses and opportunities to sell the material become possible.  

 

Costs & Funding

What will organics bins cost? 

Organic program costs will be finalized later this year. 

Will there be GST and PST on top of the utility cost? 

No, waste management services are exempt from GST and PST. 

Service Levels & Details

What size will the organics carts be? 

The cart sizes for organics will be recommended to Council in September.  The recommendation will consider how often the carts will be collected (eg. Weekly or biweekly) and the estimated amount of organics that each household generates.   

Will there be an option to select a different size cart? 

More information to be presented in the upcoming September report. 

How will the City deal with organic matter freezing to the bottom of the bin? 

The City intends to look at different cart designs/specifications which should minimize the risk of organics freezing to the bottom. 

What will the collection frequency be? 

More information to be presented in the upcoming September report. 

 
Will residents be charged regardless of whether their cart is picked up or not? 

Yes. Charges will be based on cart size, not by weight or by number of collections. 

Will the City be providing kitchen catchers and compostable bags for food waste? 

More information to be presented in the upcoming September report.  

Will residents be allowed to put food waste in bags prior to placing in the organics cart? 

More information to be presented in the upcoming September report.  

I already have a green cart? Will I be able to keep it, or will it be replaced with a new one? 

More information to be presented in the upcoming September report.  

How will medical waste and diapers be dealt with? 

More details on medical waste and diapers will be available in September.  They are likely to be considered garbage for at least the next several years. 

Don’t we have compost facilities we can use? 

The current Highway 7 composting facility currently accepts food and yard waste. Although it can manage large volumes of yard waste, it can only accept a limited amount of food waste due to increased leachate production and odours. In the past, the estimation was 8,000 Green Cart subscribers as the upper limit in terms of food waste; however, Administration anticipates that the upper limit may be slightly higher (it will be re-evaluated later this season once the impacts of the current 7,400 subscriptions can be assessed).  Despite this reassessment, the existing facility would not be able to accommodate a city-wide program based on the current footprint and on-site surface water supply. 

If we have a city-wide organics program will the City stop supporting home composting?  

No. Promoting home composting will continue to add value to the municipality and community.   

Home composting also generates value to the participant.  A resident can create up to one yard of compost per year (for free) through home composting.  This has a retail value of approximately $150 if the resident makes use of this valuable resource in their own landscaping.   

Recovery Park contains enough space for a compost facility that could be used to build a facility, either by the City itself or by a private company interested in processing organics on the City’s behalf. 

Environment & Waste Diversion

What is the City’s waste diversion goal? How are we doing? 

The community set a target of diverting 70% of our waste from the landfill. This means that 70% of our waste will be reused, recycled or composted. In 2016, 22% of the waste handled by the City was diverted from disposal through programs such as the single- and multi-unit residential recycling programs, the subscription Green Cart food and yard waste collection program, the recycling and compost depots, and the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off events. 

How does an Organics program fit into the City’s plan on waste diversion? 

As outlined in the Waste Diversion Plan, introducing an Organics program is the community’s single biggest opportunity for diversion.  Other components such as a Waste Utility and an Industrial, Commercial, and Institution (ICI) waste program will be explored further in the coming months. 

How does this support our strategic directions? 

This report supports the Strategic Goal of Environmental Leadership including the four-year priority to promote and facilitate city-wide composting and recycling and the long-term strategy to eliminate the need for a new landfill and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tied to City operations.  In addition it supports the Waste Diversion Performance Target to divert 70% of waste by 2023. 

Why is it important that we divert waste? 

Our landfill is filling up. Every year we are adding almost 100,000 tonnes of garbage.  

Waste diversion directs garbage away from landfills through reuse, recycling, or composting. Diverting waste away from landfills prevents pollution that can harm our health and the environment. 

A successful waste diversion program is necessary to extend the life of the landfill. A funding increase is needed in order to sustainably fund waste management, including appropriate transfers to the Landfill Replacement Reserve. The costs to close the existing landfill and establish a new landfill are estimated at $26 million and $100 million respectively. 

How much waste could we potentially divert with the right programs and policies? 

More than 75% could be diverted from the landfill if new programs for diversion are made available. 

How much waste can be diverted through home composting and how does that compare to a city-wide collections program? 

Backyard composting has not been shown to significantly increase waste diversion rates on a community scale, as most people do not choose to voluntarily participate in home composting (less than 25% in Saskatoon in 2017). Home composting can also be limited in terms of the amounts and types of materials that can be processed, as compared to city-wide organics programs. Even successful home composting programs are commonly partnered with curbside collection programs in other jurisdictions.  

How much organic material is currently being landfilled? 

32% of Saskatoon’s total landfilled waste is organics (food and yard waste); this includes 36,600 tonnes from residential sources and 41,700 from Industrial, Institutional, or Commercial sources. 

Why shouldn’t I throw organics (food and yard waste) in the Landfill? Don’t they break down there? 

A recent study shows that 58% of single family residential garbage in Saskatoon consists of organics such as food and yard waste. Keeping organics out of the Landfill helps us save valuable resources, space and tax dollars.  

Putting organics in the landfill causes them to break down slowly while releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide. When organic material has adequate oxygen in a compost pile, it breaks down faster and produces a usable material for lawns and gardens.   

What are the environmental implications of an organics program? 

Diverting organic waste from the landfill offers several environmental benefits in terms of land, air, and water quality.  Through the use of compost as a soil amendment in gardens or landscapes, nutrients that would normally be locked up in a landfill are recycled into the ecosystem where they are available to plants.  Compost added to soils also improves moisture retention properties so rainfall run-off is reduced. 

Organic material that is buried in a landfill environment will produce methane which is often released into the atmosphere.  Methane is a significant component of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions which contribute to climate change. Diverting 78,000 tonnes of food and yard waste from the Saskatoon landfill is estimated to reduce between 85,000 and 120,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents. 

Timelines & Communications

When will a city-wide organics program be implemented by? 

It is expected that the PAYT system can be successfully implemented by 2020.  

How do you plan to communicate this? 

A detailed communications plan will be developed in advance of any changes to ensure a successful rollout of the city-wide organics program. The communication goals are to ensure everyone is well educated on the costs, service details, and implementation plan so that nobody is surprised when the new program launches. Tactics could include traditional mass media, utility bill inserts, webpage updates, social media outreach, explainer videos, printed material, public service announcements and various other opportunities. 

Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT) Waste Utility
Costs & Funding

What is the Waste Services Utility?

When recycling collection was implemented in 2013 and 2014, these services were charged as a utility fee (a flat monthly fee that each household pays) and the Waste Services Utility was created. 

Charging for garbage collection as a utility means that residents will now have another charge on their utility bill for waste management services instead of having them funded through property taxes. In Saskatoon and most cities, residents are used to having their water and electricity services charged separately from property taxes through their utility bills.  The amount charged for these services is based on use.

Because waste services can also vary by household, it makes sense to consider charging utility fees in a way similar to water and electricity. Residents will then be able to control how much they pay by reducing the amount of waste they throw in their black cart or garbage bin.

Why are we expanding our Waste utility?

The benefit of a utility is that the person or property using the service is paying for the service. This creates a sense of ‘ownership’ and control over the amount of service being requested. Services like water, waste, transit, and electricity all have direct user benefits.  Other services, such as police, parks, environmental protection, and litter collection have overall user benefits and make sense to be charged through property taxes. The purpose of reviewing our waste management funding model and investigating a new design for the Waste Services Utility is to align user benefit with payer. 

Why variable rate pricing?

A variable-rate utility can encourage people to reduce the amount of waste they put in their black garbage cart, build a sustainable funding model based on usage, and extend the life of the Landfill. Affordability and responsiveness to citizen ability to pay is among the values established by Council and will be considered in the design of any future waste utility.

What other municipalities have a waste services utility?

A variable-pricing design for utilities in Canada is really common.  Examples include Burnaby, Toronto, Vancouver, Lethbridge, Surrey, and Winnipeg. Red Deer and North Battleford charge a flat fee for all waste services; and Regina and Calgary adopted a hybrid of property tax for garbage and charge a flat fee for Recycling.

What will the cost of the PAYT bins be?

Fees for garbage will be based on cart size, not by weight or number of collections.  If City Council supports the PAYT program, there are additional decisions to be made before a recommended fee structure can be presented.  A report to support these decisions is being prepared for consideration in September and includes items such as:

  • whether to include the cost of landfilling in the fees (most municipalities have accounted for these costs in either a property tax-supported budget or in utility fees; Saskatoon currently relies on landfill fees to cover these costs);
  • and whether to use the difference in costs to distinguish the fees for each cart size or whether to create a greater price difference between the fees for each cart to incentivize smaller carts and greater waste diversion (a practice used by some but not all municipalities with PAYT programs today).

Lower fees will be associated with smaller carts. 

Will there be GST and PST on top of the utility cost?

No, waste management services are exempt from GST and PST.

How will this impact property taxes?

There are a number of programs that make up the waste management system and City Council has yet to decide which of these programs should be funded through utility fees and which ones will remain on the property tax.  A report identifying options for structuring utility fees (including the amount that will transfer off of property taxes and onto the utility) will be presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services in September. 

The projected 2019 costs for residential garbage collections and landfilling is approximately $9.9 M per year; this is not all funded by property taxes as waste management is underfunded.  Spread out evenly across the 70,000 households served by these programs, this works out to approximately $12 per household per month. 

The 2019 rates for recycling were previously established by City Council at $5.66 per household per month.  Decisions on how this fee may change in relation to the proposed changes to curbside residential waste management services are yet to be made.

Organics program details cannot be confirmed until costs for developing more sophisticated processing of organic material in the Saskatoon region is known.  If City Council supports proceeding with the city-wide organics program, a Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued to confirm these costs and utility fees proposed based on this information.

Don’t we already pay taxes for waste services? Why would we change?

Garbage collection and most of the costs of the landfill (for residents) in Saskatoon is currently funded through property taxes. This model prevents residents from seeing the true cost of waste management. It is also inequitable since costs are not aligned with services. One of the reasons for a utility would be to provide better transparency and long-term financial stability for waste management in Saskatoon by ensuring waste service costs are more visible and equitably shared based on who is using it and how often.

If you remove the cost of waste services from my property tax bill can I expect a reduced bill? Are you going to ‘double dip’?

No, the City will not ‘double dip’. If the City moves to a full utility for waste management, a decrease in property taxes is expected, although the impact on individual property tax bills has yet to be determined. We will be reporting more details on this in the September and November 2018 reports.

How will you address those who can't afford to pay? 

Responsiveness to citizen ability to pay is among the values established for the design of any future waste utility.  Ability to pay can be partially addressed through the design of the utility fees. Additional options that could be explored, include:

  • Expanding the City’s property tax deferral program to low income households (i.e. provide this program to all age group, not just seniors);   
  • and providing discounts for garbage, recycling, or green carts for low income residents.  Administration notes that this approach, especially if the discount is applied to the garbage cart, is counter to the goals of a waste utility (i.e. user control of costs to incentivize waste reduction).    

How is a Waste Services Utility more equitable than the current property tax model?

Under a utility, users pay directly for the services they use, unlike the current model where all residents pay the same property tax rate for waste and recycling no matter how much they generate and/or divert.  In addition, non-residential (commercial & industrial) users are supporting residential services through property taxes and user fees (such as at the landfill). Some examples of this:

  • The cost of managing the residential waste at the landfill is not included in the cost of residential garbage collection services on your property tax bill, even though more than 60% of the waste brought to the landfill is from City trucks providing residential garbage collection. As a result, commercial and self-haul customers are subsidizing the cost of waste disposal for residential households by approximately $3.8M. At the landfill, commercial customers are charged the full cost of landfilling while residents self-hauling loads less than 150 kg are only charged the entrance fee. 
  • Non-residential properties (commercial and industrial) pay property taxes (their share is 31%) some of which are allocated toward waste management, but they receive minimal waste management services. Instead, they pay additional fees to the City or a private contractor to collect their waste and recycling. Commercial property owners pay $27.89 for every $100,000 of assessed value each year while residential customers pay $17.53 per $100,000 of assessed value.

How does this ensure ‘long-term financial stability’ of waste management services?

The Waste Handling Service Line is projecting a $3 million deficit in 2017. A funding increase is needed in order to sustainably fund waste management, including appropriate transfers to the Landfill Replacement Reserve (LRR), appropriate funding for landfill operating equipment and garbage containers, addressing funding shortfalls in the green cart and compost programs, and providing operating funding for Recovery Park when it opens. There will be an increased cost to administer and communicate the new utility, as compared to maintaining the status quo property tax funded program, which must be considered for future budgets, as well. 

Administration will present a Level of Service for waste handling report in September 2017 that will give City Council options for reducing this increase through service level changes. In addition, Administration recommends the following measures to adequately fund the Waste Handling Service Line:

  • Transition to a utility will result in a residential utility rate that will be higher than the amount currently paid by each household through property taxes. 
  • The subsidization of costs through property taxes paid by the commercial sector would further add to this increase. 

How is the Waste Handling Service Line (Waste Management) funded now?

The total cost of the waste management program in Saskatoon is greater than $20M per year, including services funded by 1) property taxes (garbage collection, part of the landfill, household hazardous waste collection, and the compost depots), 2) Waste Service Utility (single-family and multi-unit residential recycling programs, and the green cart program), user fees (the landfill and commercial garbage collection), and 3) the Multi-material Recycling program (MMRP).

Service Levels & Details

What will the collection frequency be?

Collection frequency will be determined in September, an organics program may make it possible to have bi-weekly collection of garbage in the summer months.

Will residents be charged regardless of whether their cart is picked up or not?

Yes, charges will be based on cart size, not by weight or by number of collections.

Charging by variable cart size is the simplest to implement and ensure residents receive accurate bills.

Once the PAYT utility is more mature, the option of introducing charges based on the number of collections will be explored.

Why will the City not be weighing carts?

Charging by weight would require on-board scales to be installed on all trucks. Weather and operational constraints may present challenges in achieving compliance with requirements under the Weights and Measures Act and Regulations governed by Measurement Canada. Even if it was permitted, it would require significant capital investment to purchase new trucks.

Will people be charged extra if they exceed their PAYT bin size? Will the City refuse to collect?

There is an option today to enter into a contract with the City to pay for a second cart.  It is anticipated that this program will continue into the future.

If a cart is overflowing, it will not be collected.  This is not a change over current practice.

How and how often residents may be able to change cart sizes will be explored in a report to the Standing Policy Committee on Environment, Utilities and Corporate Services in September. 

Will the City be exploring selling garbage tags for excess or overflow garbage?

We are currently unable to sell bag tags or manually collect bags.  We will be reporting to Council on options for bulky item collection in 2019.

In the meantime, for any excess waste needs, residents can choose to pay for additional carts and/or take their materials to a recycling depot, compost depot, or the landfill.

Are residents allowed to put locks on their PAYT bins to prevent someone from adding to their cart? Will locks be provided by the City?

Locked bins cannot be collected, bins must be unlocked and placed out for collection on collection day.  However, residents are encouraged to store their bins in a secure location on their property (i.e. garage, shed, backyard) between collections.

How are you going to address illegal dumping?   Will the PAYT system not lead to more offenses?

Illegal dumping is a concern in all municipalities with or without variable pricing, including Saskatoon.  It is estimated that the City spends approximately $300,000 per year on cleaning up and managing illegally dumped waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, communities that have implemented variable pricing have found that illegal dumping is less of a concern than anticipated.  One study found that 48% of cities and towns saw no change in illegal dumping, 6% felt it declined, and 19% saw an increase (27% had no information).   

Providing adequate capacity for recycling and composting, educating effectively on the expectations of the program, and providing resources to enforce the rules are all strategies that can help minimize illegal dumping.  The Administration will also explore opportunities to introduce a ‘bulky item’ collection service to make it more convenient for residents to dispose of items they cannot get to the landfill on their own.

Changes to the Waste Bylaw were recently made (effective January 1, 2018) to increase fines for illegal dumping, and we have added a new reporting tool online or by phone so that residents can inform our Environmental Protection Officers if they witness illegal dumping. We also continue to make improvements to our education and enforcement of the Waste Bylaw and we appreciate feedback from residents on how to make this better.

What will happen to the old garbage carts if someone opts for a smaller cart? Will they be recycled?

We are currently exploring how old carts will be dealt with; whether they will be recycled, reused, or landfilled.

Environment & Waste Diversion

Why is it important that we divert waste?

Our landfill is filling up. Every year we are adding almost 100,000 tonnes of garbage to our landfill.

Waste diversion directs garbage away from landfills through reuse, recycling, or composting. Diverting waste away from landfills prevents pollution that can harm our health and the environment.

A successful waste diversion program is critical to deferring the closure of the landfill. A funding increase is needed in order to sustainably fund waste management, including appropriate transfers to the Landfill Replacement Reserve. The costs to close the existing landfill and establish a new landfill are estimated at $26 million and $100 million respectively.

How much waste could we potentially divert with the right programs and policies?

More than 75% could be diverted from the landfill if new programs for diversion are made available.

What is the City’s waste diversion goal? How are we doing?

The community set a target of diverting 70% of our waste from the landfill. This means that 70% of our waste will be reused, recycled or composted.  In 2016, 22% of the waste handled by the City was diverted from disposal through programs such as the single and multi-unit residential recycling programs, the subscription food, yard and garden waste collection program, recycling and compost depots and Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) drop-off events.

How does a Waste Services Utility help us protect the environment?

Cost awareness can influence waste reduction. The expanded Waste Services Utility will help increase public awareness of waste costs and help increase user accountability. Increased waste reduction and diversion will help us protect our environment by reducing the amount of waste taken to the landfill, reducing methane produced from burying organic waste at the landfill, and reducing our dependence on raw resources.

Research conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (2013) of waste programs in Canada and the United States found that waste utility models may improve waste diversion rates by between 6% and 40% (depending on the recovery rate for recyclables in the community prior to implementing the pricing model). In addition, communities reported a reduction in the amount of waste disposed between 8% and 38%.

How does a Waste Services Utility support the City of Saskatoon’s strategic directions?

This expansion of the Waste Services Utility supports the Strategic Goal of Environmental Leadership including the four-year priority to promote and facilitate city-wide composting and recycling, and the long-term strategy to eliminate the need for a new landfill; It also supports the Strategic Goal of Asset and Financial Sustainability by reducing reliance on residential property taxes and setting long-term sustainable rates.

Why shouldn’t I throw organics (food and yard waste) in the Landfill? Don’t they break down there?

A recent study shows that 58% of single family residential garbage in Saskatoon consists of organics such as food and yard waste. Keeping organics out of the Landfill helps us save valuable resources, space and tax dollars
Putting organics in the landfill causes them to break down slowly while releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide. When organic material has adequate oxygen in a compost pile, it breaks down faster and produces carbon dioxide.

Why shouldn’t I throw recyclables in the Landfill? 

Keeping recyclables out of the Landfill helps us save valuable resources, space and tax dollars. 10% of single family residential garbage still consists of recyclable products, despite having well-established curbside and multi-unit residential recycling programs. Recyclable materials are valuable resources which can be used over-and-over again. 

Timelines & Communications

When will PAYT be implemented by?

It is expected that the PAYT system can be successfully implemented by 2020.

Why can’t it be implemented sooner?

Timing the implementation of a utility fee to correspond with systems and resources in place for variable pricing allows administration to recommend service levels that align with the new utility. Capital ($2.5 - $5.15 million) and administrative ($200,000) investments will be required to properly design and implement a utility that gives residents more control of their costs.

How do you plan to communicate this?

A detailed communications plan will be developed in advance of any changes to ensure a successful rollout of the PAYT program. The communication goals are to ensure everyone is well educated on the costs, service details, and implementation plan so that nobody is surprised when the new program launches. Tactics could include traditional mass media, utility bill inserts, website updates, social media outreach, explainer videos, printed material and various other opportunities.