Abbotsford reaping benefits of trash pickup every two weeks

Mission follows neighbour's cue in effort to boost diversion rates

Abbotsford reaping benefits of trash pickup every two weeks

As Mission residents get used to a new world of bi-weekly garbage and weekly recyclable pickups, newly released statistics show Abbotsford continues to reap dividends from making the same shift back in 2013.

Figures provided to The News by the city show that the amount of non-compostable and recyclable garbage going to the dump has decreased, from 12,600 tonnes in 2012, the year before the change, to 7,200 tonnes in 2013, 7,700 tonnes in 2014 and 7,700 tonnes in 2015.

The numbers also show the diversion rate, which calculates the amount of composting and recycling kept out of regular trash, has risen every year.

Diversion rose from 45.6 per cent of all trash in 2012, the last year under the old system, to 67.4 per cent in 2013, 66.9 per cent in 2014, and 69 per cent in 2015.

Planners predict the percentage of diverted, reclaimable waste will continue to grow.

The city is saving money on dumping fees as a result, around $90,000 a year. Abbotsford’s total compostable waste tonnage processed at Net Zero Waste in 2015 was 13,800 tonnes.

Two weeks in, the switch to an nearly identical bi-weekly waste collection in Mission appears to be going well, with the exception of a small number of residents who managed to miss the multiple advisories about the change from weekly pickup to once every two weeks effective April 4.

“Overall, it is going fairly smoothly,” Barry Azevedo, Mission’s manager of environmental services, said Monday.

The district took out a newspaper ad, distributed an advisory door-to-door and issued a new curbside collection calendar with a notice about the new pickup schedule on the front cover, plus a notice inside along with the revised calendar.

Even so, the change came as news to some people.

Azevedo said during the first two weeks, staff were fielding as many as 50 calls a day from residents who put their garbage out on the old schedule and wanted to know why it wasn’t collected.

It amounted to roughly three per cent of people who get curbside pickup, enough that Mission decided to have stickers printed a few days after the switchover.

The notice saying “this is not your garbage collection day” was being attached to waste containers left out under the old schedule.

Mission is also offering a “My Waste” app for smart phones that remind users in advance of all collection days. It can be downloaded at

Azevedo said the switch to waste pickup every two weeks was somewhat less of a challenge for Mission than it was for Abbotsford, because Mission did not change contractors, alter collection zones or introduce composting for the first time, all of which Abbotsford did when it made the change in 2013.

Mission has been separating out compostables since 1994, making it one of the very first municipalities in Canada to do so.

Not everyone is a fan of the new system, with some Mission residents taking to social media to express concern about possible problems with smell and unwelcome attention from rodents and other scavengers because trash will be left in containers for two weeks instead of one.

Mayor Randy Hawes has gone online to respond, saying that will only be a problem for people who don’t separate out compostable and recycable trash, which will continue to be collected once a week.

“If kitchen waste is removed from the stream and household waste such as meat wrapping is rinsed before disposal there is no odour problems,” Hawes said in one comment posted on the Mission City Record site.

A look at the waste stream into the landfill discovered that there are many homes in Mission that throw their kitchen waste into their regular trash, the mayor noted.

“Some do not even recycle,” Hawes said.

While the new system is “not as convenient” as weekly household waste pickup Hawes said “the need for a plan to reduce solid waste going into our landfill is not only essential, but an environmental and legal requirement.”

It’s estimated the change will keep 950 tonnes of recyclables and compostables out of landfills.

Under the new schedule, up to two 80-litre cans of garbage, not exceeding 20 kg in weight, will be collected every two weeks.

Exceptions will be made for families with diaper-wearing infants and people with medical conditions who need more garbage bins.

Compostables and recyclables will still be collected in unlimited amounts every week.

The change follows a 2015 waste audit that showed that 28 per cent of curbside garbage was compostable, and 14 per cent was recyclable.