Sunday, April 20, 2008

The GreenCarting of Milton

I live in the invisible house.

Admittedly, my house is set a fair ways back from the street, and there is a big ol' tree in front of it. And there's a park across the street, which means that trick-or-treaters and newspaper delivery kids prefer to just skip it rather than haul their asses all the way up the driveway when there's no houses to hit on the way back up the street. Still, when the trucks come on Wednesdays to pick up the trash they always manage to find us.

So why is it that, when Halton's new GreenCarts for compostables were delivered last month, our neighbours on both sides got theirs and we got hosed?

I immediately called the Region and left my information. They put me on the list and said to wait a week. A week went by, and I called again. They had apparently gotten my phone number wrong the first time, but we got that straightened out. They apologized, said to wait until the 4th. I wait. No Green Cart.

A few days later, my neighbours had their first GreenCart collection.

For some unknown reason, the Region decided to roll out the GreenCart program and change up the whole garbage and recycling schedule AND start using a new waste collection contract company all on the same day.

All did not go well.

The contractor in charge of the region's garbage pick-up has issued an apology to local residents for the delays that've been experienced so far in the new waste collection program.

Miller Waste Systems started a contract with the Region last week that includes the new GreenCart program, weekly Blue Box collection and bi-weekly garbage collection with a six-bag limit.

But the program got off to a bit of a rocky start, with some residents waiting for several days after their scheduled collection day for a Miller truck to show up.

Oops. Yeah, I noticed that. Our garbage and blue boxes didn't get picked up until Thursday night, and on Friday I still saw trucks collecting yard waste. Seems MWS had some splainin' to do.
Miller Senior Vice-President Blair McArthur appeared before regional council Wednesday to apologize for the challenges that've been experienced so far and offer up some explanations.

"There is a very compelling reason for the delays you have seen," he said. "The Region's marketing campaign (for the program) promised 'More Blue and Green for a Better Planet' and we have definitely seen more blue and green than at any time in the history of our waste diversion experience. In our 47 years of business, we have never seen such unprecedented rates in the roll-out of a new waste management program or the volumes of material set out for collection."

He said last week, Miller trucks collected about 2,000 tonnes of recycling and organics (compostable material) -- over 50 per cent more than what was expected.

There were also high volumes of leaf and yard waste, with more than 200 tonnes of the material being collected per day. That's about 20 per cent more than Miller had anticipated.

Shocking, I know. Especially since it was the first week after the snow melt and people had spent the weekend, oh... cleaning up their yards. Still, one wouldn't think that having to collect 50% more stuff would result in it taking 300% longer than they had estimated. Although apparently they also had issues with people not showing up for work. And they weren't real familiar with the routes. And they only had 63 trucks.

Wait a minute. 63 trucks? When they're hauling blue box/green cart, garbage and yard waste in three separate runs? And there are... 440,000 people in Halton? Which is, what, 150,000 households? Maybe 100,000 who don't live in apartments? That's still... holy shit. Ok, well, I guess I don't know enough about waste management.

Amusingly enough, Milton almost torpedoed the whole Green Cart plan. Apparently a number of our rural residents protested, asking why the hell they should pay their Hard Earned Tax Dollars to collect stuff they could just as easily compost in their enormous backyards. Sadly, when the Region did a garbage study, they discovered that rural residents had just as many compostable materials in their garbage as everyone else in town.

Soooo... we'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I finally got my GreenCart today. And only three and a half weeks late.

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