Calgary eyes plan to go 'a la carte' with your black cart

The city is working on a plan which could give Calgarians the option of lowering monthly waste and recycling bills — by offering them a smaller black cart if they want it.

Residents may get a chance to switch to a smaller cart and save money

The city is considering a program that could see smaller and larger black carts used for garbage collection. (CBC)

The city is working on a plan which could give Calgarians the option of lowering their monthly waste and recycling bill.

The introduction of the curbside recycling and compost programs have given people the opportunity to reduce how much garbage that winds up in their black carts.

But as part of the city's plan to divert 70 per cent of the waste that's going to its landfills by 2025, the next step is to offer a little financial incentive.

A plan will go to city council in June which could see Calgarians get the choice of whether they have a smaller or larger black cart than the one that's in use today.

The program would be optional and no one has to give up the cart they have now.

But there will be a break on the monthly waste and recycling charge if you switch to a smaller cart.

Goal is to divert more garbage

The city's director of waste and recycling services, Rick Valdarchi, said smaller carts should translate into less garbage going to the landfill and that's their goal.

"We're going to give you, if you desire, if you need, based on what you're doing, a different size cart. And there will be a financial benefit of going to a different size cart," said Valdarchi.

Currently, black carts have a 240 litre capacity. He said they're looking at a cart half that size as well as one that can hold 360 litres.

It's also possible that the city will look at bringing in a tag-a-bag program similar to what's been adopted in some other municipalities.

That means that the city would only pick up garbage that's inside the black cart.

Any additional material would have to have a special tag — sold by the city — on it before it would be collected.

If the variable-size black cart program works well, Valdarchi said there's no reason a similar option couldn't be offered on the blue and green cart programs.

But he adds the city wants to take it one step at a time.

Carts already RFID equipped

Technology is also being examined to see how it could pay benefits, not only for homeowners but also for the city's waste diversion plans.

Valdarchi points out that black and green carts have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded in them.

The city has a pilot project where three trucks with RFID receivers are testing the reception of the signals.

It raises the prospect of some future point where the city could also charge for how many times its trucks pick up your black cart.

Fewer pick-ups would presumably translate into a lower monthly charge.

Valdarchi said his department is working to present a plan on variable size carts and variable pricing to city council in June.

If approved, he said there is currently no specific timeline on a roll-out but it could happen in either 2019 or 2020.