Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Clear Garbage Bags Program – The Financial Side

Let’s talk about the financial implications of the $45,000 clear garbage bags program on the Town of Aurora taxpayers’ money. According to the Town $45,000 is an insignificant investment of taxpayers’ money into this ‘innovative’ environmental initiative. Of course costs are insignificant because the number is not seven figures. The cost may be insignificant for an Aurora resident also because when $45,000 is divided by let’s say 18,000 households in Aurora, the cost results in approximately $2.50 per household.

It doesn’t seem like a big investment, right? Right, but the town is spending and we are paying, therefore, I thought it would be fun to paint the financial picture of the clear garbage bags program in more detail.

The $45,000 consultant fee ($30,000 base fee + $15,000 implementation fee) may not be the only cost of the program. I will assume that there are and will be internal administrative costs associated with the completion of the program. This amount is unknown but it should be fair to call this a $45,000+ clear garbage bags program by now.

“In the worst case scenario forget the clear garbage bags program and just phase out black/green bags from the stores altogether.”

Disposal of curbside total waste collected costs money. Since the clear garbage bags program is a diversion program then presumably the total weight of the collected clear bag garbage content should decrease. Whereas, the total weight of the recycled and compost waste theoretically should increase. Since hazardous waste, electronic waste and construction material is not picked up at the curbside we should see a total weight reduction of the curbside waste. However, since the Town of Aurora pays more per weight for recycled material and green bin compost than it does for garbage, there may be a temporary spike in waste management related costs.

It is also important for residents to note that blue bin recycled material is sorted at the recycling sorting facility and there are penalty fees back-charged to the Town if non-recyclable material is found in the recycled material stream. The penalty is ultimately taxpayers’ money therefore residents are encouraged to follow the waste management guides accordingly.

“Few people know so clearly what they want. Most people can’t even think what to hope for when they throw a penny in a fountain.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Regardless of the outcome there will be an expense to Aurora residents. According to the Town’s marketing materials that I have read so far, the cost of producing clear garbage bags is the same as for opaque (black/green) garbage bags. It may even cost less because manufacturers use less dyes. Yes, the cost of producing is the same but we don’t know what will be the retail cost to the residents of Aurora. Stores will decide on the selling price, the Town says, in other words what stores sell for is not the Town’s problem. The Town’s problem is to ensure that clear garbage bags are readily available in stores across the Town of Aurora and surroundings.

One day I drove through a nearby neighbourhood during curbside pickup. I noticed that every other house had a garbage bin put out. For those who use black garbage bags inside the garbage bin they will have to switch to clear garbage bags. For those who use nothing but grocery bags inside the bin, they will have additional clear garbage bags expenses. Loose garbage is not allowed in a garbage bin. Garbage trucks are not fitted to collect loose garbage and it poses additional safety and contamination issues for the garbage collectors.

I can only conclude that the clear garbage bags program is viewed as simple but not that simple when dissected in many ways. I still think that education is the way to go. In the worst case scenario forget the clear garbage bags program and just phase out black/green bags from the stores altogether. Interestingly enough some stores already stock clear garbage bags. Yes it can be that simple yet we choose to spend money.

UPDATE: The controversial Town of Aurora Clear Garbage Bags program was never implemented due to strong public opposition.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON


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