Ottawa considers diaper pick-up dilemma
The City of Ottawa is planning to switch to bi-weekly garbage collection, but as part of the plan is considering making special pick-ups during the summer for families needing to dispose of soiled diapers.
Council will decide on April 13 whether trucks will come by every two weeks instead of every week to pick up garbage beginning next year.
Collection of compostable items in the green bin program would be boosted to weekly collection year-round — including the winter months. But under the contract with the company that processes organic waste, diapers can't go in the green bin.
The move had been previously debated two years ago, but council ruled it out due to worries about disposing of waste like diapers.
Most residents oppose switch
The city's own research has suggested Ottawa residents aren't eager to make the switch to bi-weekly garbage pickup— with 51 per cent of residents opposed to the move, and only 22 per cent in support of it.
So city staff recommended at a briefing Wednesday that "special considerations" are made for people with diapers or incontinence products.
How these special considerations would be implemented is still up for debate.
Dixon Weir, the city's general manager of environmental services, said a special pick-up might be an option for families with too many diapers.
"If there are vehicles then a supervisor could go and collect the material as is the current practice on material that may have been left behind or forgotten," said Weir.
Special pick-ups for diapers are not commonplace. Across the river Gatineau, Que. has switched to bi-weekly garbage pick-up and a brown bin program for compostables, but hasn't made any special program for diapers.
The city of Toronto has no need for such a sprogram, as its green bin program handles diapers.
Durham region in Ontario tried a special diaper pick-up program, but few people took advantage of it, and the program fizzled, said Ottawa environment committee chair Maria McRae.
McRae said that given the experiences in other regions, she wonders whether the special pick-up is needed, and also worries about its impact on the bottom line.
"That's a question I have and other people had, which is, how could this not drive the cost up?" said McRae.
The city has scheduled four open houses next week to discuss the plan with residents before the scheme is presented to the Environment Committee on April 11. The plan will go before council on April 13.
The city must finalize and tender a contract by May 2011. The changes are set to begin in June 2012.
With files from the CBC's Alistair Steele