Armour Township is making capital investments in its blue box program. Despite uncertainty around the amended Blue Box Program Plan (a-BBPP), changing markets and municipal partnerships and being a small rural northern municipality, Armour has stayed proactive in their approach.
In the fall of 2017, Armour invested in a Stationary Recycling Compactor and two 40-yard bins at the TRI Communal Landfill & Recycling Centre. The Centre is jointly managed and funded by the Municipalities of Armour, Burks Falls, and Ryerson, in the District of Parry Sound. Small populations and long distances to recycling markets present both operational and economic challenges. However, Armour has found ways to increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of their blue box program throughout the years.
The Centre serves as a depot for 1,747 households in the Townships of Armour and Ryerson and accepts material from the curbside collection of 579 households in Burk’s Falls. In the past, residents at the depot and the curb were sorting their recycling into 8 different streams. In 2012, Armour stopped processing plastics and began sending them commingled to a private processor and in 2014, glass, steel and aluminum were added to create one commingled containers stream. The changes made it easier for residents to participate and required less labour at the depot, but more participation led to a large increase in freight costs to get the material to a processor in the south.
The addition of a compactor on site will reduce their freight costs by two-thirds or more. In the first two months of operation, the freight costs were $68.84 per tonne shipped, down from $202.21 per tonne shipped in the same period the year before. It’s clear this investment will result in a major cost savings, but it almost didn’t happen.
The project was delayed last August, as members of Council considered the impact an amended Blue Box Program Plan and a move toward full producer responsibility would have on the small northern municipality. “The decision was made to move forward,” as Amy Tilley, Waste Management Administrator explains, “to ensure our system is efficient and as much of our costs as possible will be covered when the transition occurs.”
It’s Amy’s view that when things do transition to full producer responsibility, Stewards will want to take advantage of existing infrastructure, especially in the north. She believes Armour will still need to provide the service, so their best bet is to have the program run as efficient as possible.
To further reduce costs, Armour chose to invest in refurbished equipment. New equipment was projected to cost $72,300, but Armour was able to complete the project with a refurbished compactor for $45,384. Funding from the CIF also helped reduce the financial burden.
As Armour has demonstrated, now is not the time to wait and see, but to continue to invest in municipal programs, reduce operating costs, and increase efficiency.