Nova Scotia

CBRM switching to clear trash bags

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is switching over to clear garbage bags on April 1.
CBRM residents will only be allowed one dark garbage bag, plus four clear bags. (CBC)

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality is switching over to clear garbage bags on April 1.

Officials said the program ensures that people are not putting recyclable or compostable materials in their garbage and that it has proved popular, despite a similar plan being shot down in Halifax Regional Municipality earlier this month.

CBRM asked people to begin using clear bags on a voluntary basis last summer. Francis Campbell, the manager of solid waste, said the program is already producing results.

He said he had hoped to see a seven per cent drop in the amount of garbage produced across the CBRM.

"We're actually going to have a 10 per cent reduction in the amount of waste as compared to last year, " he said

"I think it's important to get the message out there to the public that, 'Thank you very much, you're doing great.' It's been tremendous, the response that we've gotten to this program. We've surpassed what we wanted to do and it's only going to get better."

Each household is allowed to put out five garbage bags per week and only one can be a dark bag; the rest must be clear.  

Waste disposal experts say too much compost and recyclables are going to the landfill instead of being diverted to the appropriate facilities. That fills up dumps and shortens their life spans.

Clear bags allow garbage collectors to be sure that what they're collecting is waste.

One in three already switched

About 33 per cent of CBRM residents have already switched to clear bags.

Francis Campbell said that's good news for everyone.

"This year alone we have reduced the amount of money that we have spent on garbage waste by $350,000. All of this because residents are asked to use clear bags instead of dark bags," he said.

He said he understands it will take a while to bring everyone up to speed.

"They have green bins, blue bags. We are surely not going to leave their garbage at the curb if they haven't switched to clear bags. We will leave some information with them if they need some help," he said.

The municipality is hoping the program will reduce its garbage by 25 to 30 per cent, protecting the environment and taxpayers' money.

A similar plan for Halifax died March 8 due to public outrage. Municipal councillors said there should be more education so people can understand the reasons for the change.