Beaconsfield pilot project leads to 30% reduction in garbage

Beaconsfield residents are among the highest producers of landfill waste on the island of Montreal, but the city hopes to change that by creating incentives for people to do more recycling and composting.

Residents who keep producing lots of garbage may have to pay more tax

Karen Messier, a Beaconsfield city councillor, says residents there produce the second-most landfill waste per capita on the island of Montreal. (CBC)

Beaconsfield is looking to overhaul the way people get rid of trash.

Residents in the West Island suburb are among the highest producers of landfill waste on the island of Montreal, but the city hopes to change that by creating incentives for people to do more recycling and composting.

As part of a two-year pilot project, the city allowed 200 participants to select what size garbage bin they wanted and provided them with compost and recycling bins.

In theory, the size of the garbage bin, and how often it was put on the curb, would affect the participants' tax bills.

The garbage bins were equipped with radio frequency identification tags and the city installed equipment on garbage trucks so it could record each time a bin was picked up.

Residents who took part produced 30 per cent less landfill waste than their neighbours.

"A very real significant reduction in waste was produced," said Andrew Duffield, Beaconsfield's director of public works.

If the system becomes permanent, Duffield said residents who keep producing lots of garbage may have to pay more tax. 

Leona Kemp, a resident who participated in the trial, said she's in favour of the idea.

"I think it's a wonderful incentive for their citizens," Kemp said. 

Beaconsfield produces the second most landfill waste per person of any jurisdiction on the island of Montreal, according to city councillor Karen Messier.

So while an incentive system will give residents a chance to avoid a higher tax bill, she said environmental concerns are the main motivation behind the idea.

"We have to do something and we have to do something pretty dramatic, we've all settled into some pretty bad habits," Messier said.

They city hopes to implement the new system in 2016.


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