Ottawa

Menard wants to open lid on plastic bag debate

Newly elected Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard wants to revisit the City of Ottawa's plan to allow plastic bags in green bins, the cause of a major debate during the last term of council.

Green bin contract renegotiated to allow plastic bags this summer

Ottawa residents will be allowed to begin placing plastic bags in their green bin this summer. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

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  • The committee discussed Menard's motion at length on April 16, 2019, but it failed in a 2-6 vote.
  • Only Coun. McKenney voted with him. She had also voted against plastic in green bins in 2018.

Newly elected Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard wants to revisit the City of Ottawa's plan to allow plastic bags in green bins, the cause of a major debate during the last term of council.

Menard gave notice at Tuesday's meeting of the standing committee on environmental protection, water and waste management that he wants to discuss holding off on that compost plan when the committee meets again in April.

As it stands, residents will be able to throw plastic bags into their compost bins starting this summer, after city council renegotiated its contract in 2018 with Orgaworld, now known as Renewi Canada. 

The city has allotted $625,000 extra in the 2019 draft budget for the extra tipping fees.

The point of expanding what's allowed in the bins is to "reduce the ick factor" and get more people composting, because only half of households do, said Marilyn Journeaux, director of solid waste.

The decision to put plastic bags in the green bin is an unknown quantity.- Coun. Shawn Menard

The city also plans to spend a few hundred thousand dollars in the coming months on a push to market the coming changes, she told councillors.

But Menard believes the city hasn't done enough to study how the compost might be contaminated by adding plastic bags, or whether allowing them might increase overall plastic use.

He also wants to wait to see documents staff are preparing for an update on the city's solid waste master plan.

Shawn Menard is the newly elected Ottawa city councillor for Capital ward. (CBC)

"The decision to put plastic bags in the green bin is an unknown quantity. We don't have the data to show it will increase [green bin] usage," Menard said.

"At the end of the day, you may see that plastic bag usage increases as a result of all of it because people get more plastic bags to put in their green bins."

Asked whether he feared revisiting the plan might create legal problems, Menard said he understands the contract would not need to change.

Less than a year ago, city council voted 19-3 to allow plastic bags in green bins, and the new chair of the committee that oversees waste has no interest in debating it again.

"I believe there's a desire in this community, in this city, to make green bins easier to use and I still support that," Coun. Scott Moffatt said.

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