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New program raises concerns among City residents

Gary Vlieg, the City of Langley
Gary Vlieg, the City of Langley's Director of Engineering, Parks and Environment, holds up some of the items that households can expect to receive within the next few weeks. The materials will provide a comprehensive list of what can and cannot go into organic kitchen waste bins when pick up begins on Jan. 2.
— image credit: Brenda Anderson/Langley Times

The City of Langley’s new organic green waste recycling program has not yet begun and already the municipality is receiving a bit of backlash from the community.

Residents’ main concern seems to be the reduction in garbage pick-up from once a week to once every two weeks, with a limit of two cans per household.

“We’ve already had complaints from people not liking the change,” said Mayor Peter Fassbender.

“People think it’s a given they should have two garbage cans a week.”

However, if households are recycling properly, they shouldn’t be producing that much trash, he noted.

Under the new schedule, organic waste, which includes everything from meat and vegetable waste to soiled paper products — the items most likely to generate unpleasant smells — will be picked up every week, with no limit on the number of containers produced by a single household.

Councillor Dave Hall asked staff whether there is a plan in place to handle situations where residents might try to slip regular garbage into their weekly recycling pick up.

“Have you anticipated that at all?

“Maybe there needs to be a ticketing mechanism, with a warning the first time,” he said.

“We haven’t anticipated or set up provisions for that,” said City engineer Gary Vlieg. “You raise a good point.”

In other communities where green waste recycling is already underway, there is a contamination rate of between two per cent and five per cent, Vlieg said.

“If it gets too high, we’ll have to deal with that.”

The City’s hope is that people will understand the rationale behind the switch to green waste recycling and make an effort to participate.

The two main goals of the program are to ultimately reduce costs — tipping fees for organic recycling collection are about half those of garbage collection — and to change the way the community deals with waste for the betterment of the environment, said Fassbender.

“We’re not doing this on a whim, or changing for the sake of change.”

The new collection schedule begins on Jan. 2. Packages detailing the new collection procedures are currently being distributed to single-family dwellings in the municipality.

The City expects to receive a number of calls on the change, both before and after it takes effect. They are currently developing a list of frequently asked questions to prepare staff to handle the calls.

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