Rethinking Garbage

Garbage – it’s personal; we all create it and that’s why the City needs to rethink waste.   Not just for today, but for the future of our community.

In January 2011, Barrie began work on a Sustainable Waste Management Strategy and action plans for responsible changes to our waste collection, diversion and disposal systems over the next 20 years.  The new changes to curbside collection being considered by Council are not only financially responsible, it is environmentally responsible and needs to be part of our long term sustainable growth.

So here’s why we did it.  More than 70% of our garbage should actually be going in our green, blue, or grey bin.  We just aren’t using our recycling and organics bins to the extent we should – only 45% of our waste is diverted, 55% still ends up in our landfill.  Because of that, we’re running out of landfill space. Run out of landfill space, and we will have to truck our garbage to Michigan at enormous cost to all of us.

Biweekly pickup increases waste diversion by 10% which will extend the life of the landfill and save all of us big time down the road. Blue, grey, green bins will still be picked up weekly and you’d be surprised how much of what you throw out today can actually go in one of those bins. Short version: this is an unpopular decision, we know it will be unpopular, but Council made it because its the right thing to do for us and for our kids.

It’s about rethinking waste and what we do with it each week.  Garbage is for waste that cannot be composted or recycled. Recycling is for mixed household containers/packaging and paper products.  The Green Bin (organics) is for food scraps, food soiled paper and meat, bone and dairy products.

It might appear to be easier to put everything in a black garbage bag, but with unlimited access to recycling and the green bin every week, and new items being added to the program, you will actually have less waste around your home every week; which also means less waste in our landfill.  What garbage you are unable to recycle or put in the green bin can be placed at the curb every other week beginning January 2015.

How you can rethink waste:

–      Unlimited recycling and organics every week; plus new items are being added to the program, such as film plastic, including plastic bags and empty paint and aerosol cans. These new items can be added as of April 2014

–      Two bags of garbage every other week beginning January 5, 2015.

–      Put food scraps, food soiled paper in the green bin which will be picked up curbside every week.

–      Residents are able to put out an unlimited amount recycling boxes and green bins.


I know a lot of people aren’t going to like this change.  It saves all of us $400,000 per year, but that’s not why we did it.  We did this because if we don’t do it, we’re all going to be paying for it in the long run.  And it’s far better for the environment than what we are doing today.

I’d like to think that this Council has the guts to make an unpopular decision when we know it’s the right thing to do.  I think this is one of those situations.  Comments welcome as always!


About jefflehman
Jeff Lehman is the 46th Mayor of the City of Barrie. The Ward 2 Councillor for the City of Barrie from 2006 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Council, chaired the City’s Growth Management Working Group, and created the Historic Neighbourhoods project, a new initiative to protect and revitalize Barrie’s oldest neighbourhoods. Jeff has lived in Barrie for most of his life, having grown up in Allandale and attended Barrie Central Collegiate. Jeff holds a B.A. from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Degree with first class honours from the UK’s prestigious London School of Economics. He was hired to teach at the LSE following his graduation, and lived and worked in London for two years as an academic. Since that time, as an economist, he has worked with cities across Canada to manage redevelopment and invest in their urban infrastructure. In 2005, he established the Growing By Degrees Task Force to assist in expanding university education opportunities in Barrie, and has volunteered his time with many organizations in the City. Jeff lives near Downtown Barrie with his wife, Jennifer, a part-time professor of political science, and their young daughter Cassie, who is already smarter than her father.


11 Responses to “Rethinking Garbage”
  1. Sebastian Meeser says:

    I agree with all of the above, except starting it in January 2015 is a bit far away, maybe April 1st 2014 would have been better. Play it off as a joke slogan. Lol. “Recycling is no joke, it’s our future!” or “Don’t be a fool, recycle, reduce, reuse ;-)”

  2. Anya Brown says:

    My only concern with this is pet waste and diapers. Right now , 1 of the two bags of garbage we are allowed weekly, is filled with pet waste and diapers. Both of those items are odorous and require weekly attention. Would those items make it into the greenbin allowance list ? Otherwise the two bags of biweeklu ready would consist entirely of pet waste and diapers leaving no room for actual waste. Just a question, however I do agree with this decision I am just concerned about those particular items.

  3. George Dannewald says:

    Mr. Mayor
    Two things that I’d like to get off of my chest. I have always made use of the recycle and can honestly say that even though I put out my garbage every week, I don’t believe that in one month , normally, that it would fill a garbage bags. Not the big green bags, the ones you put in your kitchen garbage can, which would be less than half a green bag. We are big believers in recycling and had put out both gray and blue bins as well as the green container. But even the compost only amounts to one small compost bag per week.

    So the first thing that bothers me is that the city does not force resident to use the recycle services. My neighbour of over 5 years has not once put out any garbage or recycle. He loads up his 1/2 ton pickup (I mean loads up) once every 4-6 weeks, ties it all down, and hauls it off somewhere. I’m sure that if he took it to the dump, he’d be paying through the nose for dump fees, so the only thing that I can think of is that his son in law drives a Roll-off garbage truck, and is only a few blocks away, so his and the son in law are likely dumping their garbage in the city dump. Of course, this saves Barrie money, but it’s not right. I guarantee that you can ask any driver on the route, whether recycle or garbage, and they will confirm that they’ve never made a stop at that driveway.

    The second thing that bothers me, is that I was told by a manager of a large residential unit, that an ex city employee of the city dump stated that recycling herein Barrie is just a front. Even though everything arrives at the site separated, it all ends up in the dump as the cost of running the recycle is too expensive and a money loser to the city!! I can only say that while I stayed there, many of the housekeeping people had been brainwashed to believing that, and didn’t have their hearts into recycling. FYI

  4. Theresa says:

    I have been using the green bin since the day it started and have and will never have a problem with it ..I think it was a great idea it took me from 2 garbage bags down to one. I use my grey bin and my blue every week also.As a matter of fact I went out and bought from Canadian Tire a bigger blue bin for my cans etc because the one you gave me wasn’t big enough.
    The only concern I have is why you don’t take plastics? Years ago you had a recycle set up across from city hall that would take everything from diaper bags to egg cartons.Now I know some of those things are going in the bin now but with water etc wrapped up in plastic I don’t understand why you don’t take it.It says right on the wrapper recyclable and yet I have to throw it in the garbage.. I think you should find a way to also accept things like wrappers that a 24 case of water comes in- chip bags- etc because that is going in my garbage and that will take up space …So keep that in mind also anything like that, that says recyclable should be recycled .No questions asked. As far as the green bin I think everyone should use it the apartment building and condos should have been doing it from day one those are your bigger problems just think of all those people that could have been doing it all these years and haven’t that was your fault for not finding a way and letting it slide .I’m doing my part now you better do yours…

  5. Megan says:

    I think this change will take a lot of adjusting but is good. I feel with the money they city is saving – they should be giving the residents more than one bin each since we will likely need more. That or lower our taxes a bit. Your cutting down but your still upping our taxes. The wages at most jobs don’t go up anymore but the cost of living does. It’s getting harder and harder to live in Barrie… I love this city – so I bought a house here. But it’s impossible to do alone so I have a roommate. The two of us are literally strapped for money now because of house expenses including the high taxes. I know Barrie is trying to do something about rent costs – but rent isn’t practical. All your doing is paying someone else’s mortgage and not your own – so long term you can never retire. That’s just food for thought. But I do think once we adjust to using the bins more the garbage pick up won’t be an issue. Thanks for being a hands on mayor.

  6. Ian says:

    Good day Mr Mayor.

    I agree with anything that helps to put the point across that we should recycle more often. I own a 6 unit apartment building in the down town core area. We have grey and blue bins but have been informed that we don’t come under the rules for green bin recycling. Because of this our tenants also still qualify for 2 bags of garbage weekly. So I have several questions, since we don’t qualify for green bin pick up that mens that all tenant garbage will remain on the property for 2 weeks increasing the likelihood of rodent issues once the new rules come into effect. And the most obvious question is, why don’t we qualify for green bins, that would solve both issues.
    Thank you for your comments.

  7. Concerned resident says:

    This is a mess. You want to save money yet you waste money on the police. You raise our taxes and yet reduce our services. How are we supposed to “increase” recycling when your service keeps rejecting all sorts of plastic, glass and other such materials?

    And I bet. After all of this you will STILl raise our taxes another 2%. Given past tax increase, there should be plenty of money to keep the landfill going or to invest in an incinerator. That way we could produce our electricity and take care of our garbage.

    Then there is going to be confusion on which week is garbage day and which is not.

    This is nothing short of stupid.

  8. Jason Grimmer says:

    As a 13 year Barrie resident and tax payer I am getting sick of always paying more taxes and getting less service. When I moved to barrie I could put out my two bag\can limit garbage every week and my recycling and was fine with it. I could also go to the dump and had a 1000 lbs yearly limit which was also fine and fair but over the years this has gone down to one bag\can per week and only 100 kg of weight at the dump and now I see that we are going to be reduced to this every two weeks. It’s bad enough that I have tax increases every year but now I am forced into paying $3 for every extra can and bag I have.

    Fed up!

  9. Dawn says:

    A story was posted today in the Ottawa Sun to say that the bi weekly garbage collection is not going well there. The article says it all! I urge residents and city councillors to read it and take note.

  10. Stepanie says:

    Subject#10[post] 55 710 3 15. You could easily compare the
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the White Stripes minus a female vocalist.
    What they had done was to build up the soil micro-organisms
    living in the humus on their farm.

  11. Jamie says:

    About a week after the every other week started people have been illegally dropping off bags of garbage by my private locked garbage dumpster. I called the city and because this is on private property there is nothing they will do. We did not have this problem before this new plan came into action and now that it is here this is a problem for my business and I am sure others. It is not fair that my company has to shoulder the cost to get rid of this garbage at our expense.

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