Performance impacts: Changing to two stream collection

CIF’s February 1 blog revealed how the Township of Drummond/North Elmsley (DNE) addressed international fiber market issues by transitioning its Blue Box program from weekly single stream to two stream, alternating week collection.

This week’s blog answers your follow up questions about:

  • How has this change affected participation?
  • What is the impact of going to two-stream on cross contamination?
  • Were capture and diversion affected?

DNE staff are working through steps in their CIF project’s measuring and monitoring plan and, just this week, received the final summarized datasets from the fall waste composition study completed in the third and fourth weeks of the new collection program. Staff compared this new information to the program’s baseline, from the summer study season, and can now begin to answer these important questions.

Contamination is unchanged, but less of an impact?

Contamination is a topic of concern for all stakeholders, especially with respect to the fiber markets – so that’s our starting point.  The summer baseline study tagged contamination at ~9%.

The Township is a partner in CIF and Stewardship Ontario’s waste composition study program. Learn more about how your municipality can participate!

The study results indicate contamination has not changed significantly (up 0.5%), but what is really interesting is that almost all of the contamination is in the container stream. This may be good news, as a cleaner fiber stream will support the effective marketing of these materials and better costs overall for the program. DNE staff expect that as residents become more familiar with the program, contamination will go down.

Participation and capture remain consistent

The graphic showcases a nominal increase in participation and decrease in capture rates for the program in comparing the fall (made after the program change) versus the summer (baseline) study results. Here’s our interpretation:

  • Participation often improves with P&E or a change in programming and is a good indicator that residents have bought in.
  • Although capture may be modestly down, the simpler sort for two stream collection likely means more material is being diverted.

So what does this mean?

Program participation, contamination and the capture rates have repeatedly been demonstrated to vary plus or minus a few percentage points from season to season. In this case however, consistent values may very well indicate residents are successfully engaging with the new program. Data from the winter and spring study will provide the necessary information to confirm this trend.

The waste study data helps DNE staff identify potential opportunities for using P&E, or other program tools, to influence resident behaviour. For example, DNE staff are now shortlisting ideas for addressing contamination in the containers stream, including:

  • Providing a hot list of items for the ‘tag and leave’ program.
  • Creating messaging for the municipal website & tax mail-outs to target specific materials residents should leave out of their new yellow or blue box.
  • Working with members of the local Lanark County Municipal Waste Group on concepts for new print ads to be used in the 2019 In-Kind Ad program and other P&E initiatives across the county.


This week’s blog is a great example of the measuring and monitoring that goes into a successful CIF project. In funding individual program initiatives like this, CIF is always focused on gathering the data and information to identify new better practices that can be shared across the province.

If you are interested in alternative ways to monitor the performance of your program, CIF will once again be offering the Benchmarking and Assessing Training on Wednesday, May 15, the day before the Ontario Recycler Workshop. This training day is for municipal and first nations staff, is provided at no cost, and participants earn a CEU towards next year’s Datacall submission

CIF offers a one day training workshop to help ensure you’re tracking the most meaningful information and performance metrics to guide your program. Sign up today!

Need to know more?

DNE will be reporting out on and comparing key performance indicators between its previous single stream collection and the new two stream, alternating week program.

 Look for the final report this fall on the CIF’s funded projects page.

For more about this project, please contact CIF Staff  or Cathie Green, Public Works Assistant at the Township of Drummond/North Elmsley.