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Politicians rally to salvage region's school recycling programs

Staff recommended the program he halted due to cost; Politicians agreed 'success of this program' is key to the county's waste diversion record
Mayor Brian Saunderson. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

A county-wide school recycling program, that appeared set to be trashed due to costs associated with it, will continue after all.

The issue came up at yesterday’s (June 11) county council meeting through a staff report stating the collection vehicle used for the program had reached the end of its useful life and, if the program were to continue, would need to be replaced at a cost of $330,000.

Coupled with concerns about potential provincial changes to the blue box program, staff noted it was risky to spend so much money on a new vehicle.

However, Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson led the charge to have the program renewed in full without any service reduction and received unanimous support from his council colleagues to continue the program.

The decision is not official until it is ratified at next week's meeeting.

The Living and Leaning Green program is a partnership between the county and the school boards to run the same level of recycling and organics collection available to residential homes in the county at all local schools.

It uses a front-end collection vehicle to enable pickup of commercial-type waste bins containing recyclables and organics from the schools.

The program has been in place since 2010, and, according to Saunderson, it was established as a way of engaging youth in a school waste diversion program as a means of educating them in the hopes they would bring those behaviours back to their families.

In 2010, the program collected 73.8 tonnes of organic waste from Simcoe County schools and 451.81 tonnes of recycling. Last year, the program collected 110 tonnes of organics and 580 tonnes of recycling.

“Simcoe County is a leading region in Ontario and Canada for waste diversion with an annual rate of between 60 to 65 per cent, and I believe that the success of this program is one of the key reasons for the county’s impressive waste diversion record,” said Saunderson.

The operating costs of the program are shared between the school board and the county. In 2018, the county paid $156,960 toward the operating expenses of the program and the school board contributed $110,778.

Capital costs - a new truck, for example - are the sole responsibility of the county.

The truck is required because the county’s curbside collection is currently contracted to Waste Connections of Canada, and their vehicles are designed for curbside collection of residential materials rather than commercial bins.


Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter, photographer and community editor.
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