4. Pre-adoption Considerations

4. Pre-adoption Considerations

a. Making Bag Limit Policies Work

Communities that establish limits above 4/wk. rarely experience a noticeable reduction in waste landfilled or recycling/composting increases. The lower the bag limit, the higher the waste diversion rate. A 2007 KPMG study prepared for the Municipal-Industry Programs Committee (MIPC) of Waste Diversion Ontario reported that Communities that impose bag limits of less than three per week, in general, experience a noticeable reduction in the amount of waste sent for disposal and an increase in recycling rates.  There tends to be an inverse relationship between the number of bags permitted at the curb and the diversion and recycling rates achieved.” [1] The study provided the following recommended bag limits for different recycling scenarios.

Recycling System

Collection Frequency

Garbage

Suggested
Bag Limit

Add Kitchen Organics

Suggested
Bag Limit

Multi-Sort

weekly

weekly

3

weekly

2

bi-weekly

weekly

4

weekly

3

Two Stream

weekly

weekly

3

weekly

2

bi-weekly

weekly

4

weekly

2

alternating weeks

weekly

3

weekly

2

Single Stream

weekly

weekly

3

weekly

2

bi-weekly

weekly

4

weekly

2

Source: Blue Box Program Enhancement and Best Practices Assessment Project Final Report. July 31, 2007. Prepared by KPMG for Municipal-Industry Programs Committee

The better practice is to fix the initial bag limit at a number low enough to actually encourage residents to re-think their waste generation/disposal habits and/or begin to participate in available alternative waste diversion activities.  This limit is typically at or below 2 bags/week because the average set out is 1.8 bags/week in most communities.


b. Provide Waste Diversion Support

Bag limits will be widely unpopular and resisted by residents if there are no adequate alternative waste diversion programs and policies available within the community. For example, when York Region introduced bag limits, they expanded the Blue Box Program and rolled out a Green Bin program to provide alternative means to dispose of waste as opposed to simply limiting the amount of waste set out. Additionally, the impact on residents and number of objections/complaints will be reduced if an advance P&E campaign educates residents about all available alternatives.


c. Pairing Bag Limits With PAYT

Once bag limits are introduced, many communities will continue/lower them while implementing Pay-As-You-Throw. This reinforces the community’s aim to reduce landfilled waste and increase participation in diversion programs.

Communities with bag limits and PAYT:

  • Town of the Blue Mountains – partial PAYT with 2 bag limit.
  • Municipality of Grey Highlands – partial PAYT with 2 bag limit.
  • Halton Region – partial PAYT with 6 bag limit (bi-weekly).
  • Northumberland County – full PAYT with 3 bag limit.
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation – full PAYT with 4 bag limit.
  • Rideau Lakes Township – full PAYT with 2 bag limit plus clear bag policy.
  • Peterborough County – full PAYT with 3 bag limit.

[1] Blue Box Program Enhancement and Best Practices Assessment Project Final Report. July 31, 2007. Prepared by KPMG for Municipal-Industry Programs Committee(MIPC) pg. 65