Only new residents get free blue boxes from the Region

Helen Hall

In the last five years, the Region of Waterloo has given away about 250,000 blue recycling boxes.

That’s almost 1,000 blue boxes a week, and it was a cost that “just wasn’t sustain- able,” says Waste Management Program Manager Cari Rastas Howard. Regional council voted to trim some services pro- vided by its Waste Management division during the 2013 budget deliberations.

As a result, new homeowners can still get a free blue box, but replacement boxes must now be purchased by homeowners. The Region will not sell blue boxes at the landfill. Boxes can be purchased at most hardware stores, as well as many other retail stores in the region. Howard said while some residents are disappointed they can’t get free replace- ment boxes, others are “blown away” at the number that were picked up free each year.

There are about 150,000 individual curb- side garbage stops in Waterloo Region. Data from the last five years indicates that 50,000 free replacement boxes were picked up each year which roughly translates into a new box for every stop every three years.

“Residents now have to treat it like their garbage containers,” Howard said. Homeowners have always been responsible for purchasing their own garbage can and replacing it when it gets damaged. The region estimates it will save $200,000 a year by discontinuing this free service. In addition, starting April 2, there will be a new $2 minimum tipping fee for dump- ing waste at the Waterloo landfill.

Currently, there is no charge for the first 50 kilograms weighed on the scale, and loads over 50 kilograms are charged the tipping fee of $7.40 per 100 kilograms. After April 2, loads under 50 kilograms will be charged the flat rate of $2, and fees will remain the same for loads over 50 kilograms.

Howard said other municipalities have a minimum fee of between $5 and $20. This new fee does not apply to items that are free to drop off, such as household hazardous waste, oil, paint or Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStore donations.

To save staffing costs, the public area of the Waterloo landfill will now be closed on all statutory holidays. In the past, it only closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

For more information on waste collection visit www.regionofwaterloo/waste.