Andrew Wort

Andrew Wort says a lack of enforcement of the rules for garbage separation has led to some very bad habits among people in southeastern New Brunswick. (Marc Genuist/CBC)

The general manager of Recycle Southeastern N.B., Andrew Wort, says unless residents can do a better job of separating their garbage there is no point to continue with the blue and green bag program.

After one day of enforcing the rules for trash separation there were so many complaints that Moncton City Council voted to delay the crackdown by garbage collectors in favour of a three-week education blitz.

Wort says more than 900 green bags were rejected by garbage collectors this week, and those bags were left at the curbside for residents to re-sort.

"Frankly with the philosophy of putting the trash in the green bag over the last five to ten years, it's deteriorated so that the green bag has become a trash bag. If we can't get it right why are we spending the money on it," Wort said.

Green bags should contain only compostable material.

Wort said the problem is green bags are often contaminated with glass, plastic and other products that don't break down. That leaves the facility with tonnes of material it can't turn into valuable compost.

He said other municipalities are selling their compost as top soil and making money.

Many complaints from confused residents

Wort said three people have been answering the phones at Recycle SENB continuously since Monday.

rejected garbage bag

Many residents in Moncton found stickers like this on their trash bags, which weren't picked up by garbage collectors, on Monday after Recycle Southeastern N.B. began enforcing separation rules. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

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City councillors Brian Hicks and Charles Leger said at Monday's council meeting that their phone lines were jammed with residents calling to ask why their trash hadn't been picked up.

"I'm all for recycling but I'm also all for educating and figuring out where we're going with this," said Leger.

Hicks told council the residents he heard from genuinely did not understand why their bags had been rejected.

"The people who called me today weren't trying to pull any fast ones," he said. "I think it would have been much smarter on the city's part if, instead of leaving those bags with a sticker on them that said nothing, that we left a letter or something saying this is a problem and take it away this time."

Wort says he is wondering if some of the garbage collectors might have become carried away with the rejection stickers.

"I actually have some photographs on my phone that I'm going to forward to the city because there was some stuff stickered which I can't see what the issues were."

Now, Wort and city officials will spend the next three weeks training garbage collectors and the public on how to sort their garbage.

"People have been allowed to put things at the curb for so many years without any enforcement or education program to back it up, and both are absolutely critical to getting it right and frankly people think, 'Well I thought I was doing it right.'"

Wort says if the compost from the green bag program can't be used safely the community will have to decide whether it makes any sense to continue with the blue and green bag program.