Nova Scotia

Clear bags keeping 24% more trash out of Halifax landfills

Halifax's manager of solid waste says residents across the municipality have embraced the clear bag program that was introduced more than a year ago.

Muncipality reporting less garbage, more recycling since program launched in summer 2015

Using clear garbage bags helped reduce the amount of garbage being sent to the landfill, according to a municipal official. (CBC)

Halifax's manager of solid waste says residents across the municipality have embraced the clear bag program that was introduced more than a year ago.

The municipality says 24 per cent less garbage has made its way into landfills since the ban on the use of all but one black bag for curbside trash. 

"Just to put that in perspective garbage-wise, that's 14,000 tonnes of material that's no longer landfilled," said Matt Keliher.

Recycling facility needs expansion

Keliher said the municipality's recycling facilities have seen 13 per cent more plastic, paper and glass since the switch to clear bags. 

"Because of that we actually need to put an expansion onto our facility in order to handle all of that material that comes in," said Keliher. "Just keep on sending it to us."

Keliher said planning is underway for an expansion of the recycling facility in Bayers Lake for spring or summer of 2017.

Food waste still a problem

But it's not all good news. 

The amount of food waste collected has remained more or less unchanged. 

And unlike elsewhere in the province, recycling and processing of Styrofoam and textiles is still out of reach for the municipality. 

"With the development of an expansion at the recycling plant, once that's done, staff will undertake some measures to see the business case viability to adding Styrofoam and textiles to the collection system in HRM," said Keliher.

In 2007, the Nova Scotia Enviroment Department set a goal of 300 kilograms of trash per person, per year. 

Last year, the CBC reported Nova Scotians were producing 380 kilograms per person, a number the municipality says is still accurate.

Halifax embracing clear bags

"It's a lofty target. We're working as best as we can to make sure that materials get where they're supposed to go and not to a landfill," said Keliher. 

When the program began, the municipality says there was an obvious spike in the number of bags rejected by collection crews.

Today, that number has fallen back to pre-clear bag levels.

The municipality says it also sees a spike in recycling during and after the holidays.