Changes coming to re-cycling in 2019

Effective September 1, 2019, the County intends to make major changes to its recycling and waste collection program.  Instead of one type of recyclable waste, there will be two: paper and containers. In addition, organic waste will be collected separately. Residents will be given blue, grey and green boxes.  It will get complicated so expect a major educational program.  The motivation for the dual-stream recycling is the cost of recycling when it’s contaminated with non-recyclable material.  Currently in Northumberland County, contamination of recyclables is around 20-25% – with dual stream, it can go as low as 3%.  Because of this contamination, the price paid for recycled paper has dropped from $100 per metric ton to $5 per metric ton.

Northumberland Waste - current contractor
Northumberland Waste – current contractor

The motivation for separating out organic waste is a reduction in landfill requirements since about 60% of garbage can be composted.  Composting is also better for the environment than landfill since the carbon dioxide generated is 23 times less potent as a greenhouse gas than the methane generated when garbage is put in a landfill.

Current program

Residents and small businesses can put out for collection weekly:

  • Up to THREE bags of household garbage (each with a $2.75 bag tag)
  • An unlimited amount of recyclables, in either bins, or clear or clear-blue bags
  • Plastic bags and plastic wrap in their own separate clear or clear-blue plastic bags
  • Shredded paper in their own separate clear or clear-blue plastic bags

Planned program

  • Up to TWO bags of household garbage (each with a $2.75 bag tag) – organic waste not allowed;
  • A Grey Box for paper products (e.g. newspapers, cereal boxes, writing paper, envelopes, etc.);
  • A Blue Box for containers (e.g. water bottles, pop cans, margarine containers, laundry soap containers, milk and juice cartons, etc.).
  • Plastic bags and plastic wrap in their own separate clear or clear-blue plastic bags
  • Shredded paper in their own separate clear or clear-blue plastic bags
  • Organic waste must be placed into a Green Bin
  • Residents will be allowed to use compostable bag liners in their Kitchen Collector and their Green Bin
  • There will be a weight limit per bin or container of 20kg / 44 lbs per item

Each household will be provided with one (1) free Grey Box,  two (2) free Blue Boxes, one (1) free Green Bin and one (1) free Kitchen Collector.

County staff provided a cost estimate for the change:

Current Annual Cost of Roadside Waste Collection $2,425,000
Future Costs and Savings:  
   Organic Waste Collection $1,000,000
   Organic Waste Processing $250,000
   Recyclables Collection $500,000
   MRF Operations & Recyclables Revenue ($500,000)
   Landfill Capacity Savings ($350,000)
Net Future Cost Increase $900,000

This change is in accordance with the Long-Term Waste Management Master Plan (LTWMMP) adopted in 2014 after public consultation starting in 2011.  Timing is based on the fact that the current waste collection contract expires August 31, 2019.


Agenda of County Council meeting June 20, 2018
Cobourg Mayor Gil Brocanier referenced this change in his Coordinator’s report on July 3.


The County issued a Press Release on this subject on 10 July 2018

New waste collection programs coming to Northumberland County in September 2019

New Bins
New Bins

Cobourg, ON – July 10, 2018 – As part of efforts to achieve a long-term goal of 75% waste diversion from the local landfill, Northumberland County Council has approved updates to residential waste collection services, to take effect in the fall of 2019. These updates include the introduction of a new weekly ‘green bin’ organics collection program, and the transition to a dual-stream recycling program that will replace the current one-stream program. These waste collection improvements are part of the County’s Long Term Waste Management Master Plan, released in 2014.

“The contents of the average household garbage bag are 60% organic waste,” states County Director of Transportation and Waste Mo Pannu. “With the
introduction of this green bin program, and a corresponding change in the weekly garbage collection limit to two bags per household, we anticipate diverting a minimum of 3000 tonnes of waste annually from our landfill, ultimately expanding its lifespan.”

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manfred s
14 July 2018 11:38 am

maybe I’m off the mark here but when I think of ‘compostible’ I think of, for the most part, what we eat. Generally we buy that, and that leads me to think that if we have so much compostible waste, we are buying too much, or at least more than what we will eat. One solution to part of the issue would then seem to be buying less and wasting less. That has several additional benefits as well. Less buying, less waste, less storage, less ‘work’, less collection expense, less processing expense, and maybe even others. If we start at the beginning of the problem we might actually come up with further-reaching solutions than the band-aid ones we are working on now. Some of this could also be directed at non-compostible waste issues, or at best, it should.

8 July 2018 9:15 am

We can, and I will continue to backyard compost.

Rusty Brown
Reply to  marilyn
8 July 2018 1:05 pm

Me, too. It’s easier than packing the stuff up and putting it out for garbage.

Reply to  Rusty Brown
8 July 2018 6:34 pm

I have no problem using my green bin.

7 July 2018 8:15 pm

So those of us who have been composting for years will get a rebate when we return the useless green bin? Maybe I can use it to store other useless items in?

Miriam Mutton
7 July 2018 2:32 pm

Anyone one know where all this collected organic waste is going (I heard about an early plan to ship it all to Lindsay for processing – dynamics of scale) and what will be the end product? Will the result be useful, like a garden soil amendment, recycled back for use in the community?

The County of Northumberland meeting agenda (link in main article) includes excellent detailed reports but these details I could not locate.

Meanwhile, my household has been composting organics at home for years including blending some leftover fruit and protein bits into our pets’ food. The organics I need to find a solution for include dog strangling vine weeded out from the gardens and also garlic mustard (an edible early spring green, tasty when cooked like spinach, but way too much to eat)… both invasive plants I bag and place in the ‘pay’ waste stream in an effort of keeping these invasive plants out of the chipping/yard waste collection program the County also offers in monthly street pick up. These invasive plants are prolific seed producers and crowd out native plants … not sure I want to spread them around in a composting program either.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
7 July 2018 2:35 pm

I am starting to see dog strangling vine everywhere. A major problem!

Eleanor Hawking
7 July 2018 11:11 am

This sounds like a responsible thing to do and hopefully at least 75% of the people in Cobourg will do this. Unfortunately, some people are either lazy or do not like to be told what to do.
Storage is tight enough as it is in our garage and if you don’t have a garage where are you supposed to store 2 boxes , 1 bin, 2 bags of household garbage, 1 clear bag of shredded paper and 1 clear bag for plastic bags and wrapping! What happens if you live in a condo or a rented apartment? Recycling and organic waste has to be dealt with and I hope the residents will deal with this responsibly and not throw their garbage out of their vehicles late at night because they just can’t or won’t deal with it properly. It’s going to be a bit more time consuming but I intend to do my bit. My husband I am sure will have to be supervised lol.

Wally Keeler
7 July 2018 10:10 am

“That amount does not appear to account for the costs for the purchase of the “free” grey/green boxes nor for the additional labour for separation by the residents nor for the storage of additional boxes nor… Why?”

Good question, but is it good enough to inspire you to do the research to find out, or, as usual, you expect others to answer your questions for you.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 July 2018 2:16 pm

It was a rhetorical question so no research is required. The new recycling plan is just another instance of those who want to telegraph virtue at the expense of others controlling the conversation.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
7 July 2018 2:26 pm

Really? The new recycling plan is just a virtue signal? It appears to be a positive move forward, both economically and for environmental sustainability. Your practical suggestions to improve it in economic terms is welcome.

New "Townie" and Big Veggie Consumer
7 July 2018 8:09 am

Finally!! Green bins. Since I moved into Town last fall, composting has been unavailable. to me. I cannot believe how much garbage I now have… mostly compostable stuff and it’s HEAVY to boot. I feel quite guilty and almost ill about it. I’ll be first on the band wagon..

Reply to  New "Townie" and Big Veggie Consumer
7 July 2018 7:26 pm

An excellent example of recent additions to Cobourg attempting to remake our lovely town into a smaller Toronto!

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Dubious
7 July 2018 10:33 pm

Land o’ Goshen.
So all of a sudden it’s a lovely town, after all of your and your fellow travellers’ badmouthing of Cobourg.
And of course, lets keep out all those refugees from Toronto.
Build a wall like your friends down South!

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
8 July 2018 8:36 am

The town is lovely; some local politicians and town staff not so.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Dubious
8 July 2018 11:42 am

Downtown Cobourg, a ‘sow’s ear’…. ‘poor state of repairs, vermin’.
Your words Duby!

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
8 July 2018 12:54 pm

Thank you for bringing my earlier posting to everyone’s attention. If our town’s politicians and staff were to actively pursue enforcement of existing bylaws regarding property standards there would be no downtown buildings in a “poor state of repair or with vermin” and at no expense to the taxpayers. This is just one, albeit very visible, example of the poor performance which prompted my comment yesterday. There is little wrong with Cobourg that could not be quickly fixed by replacing many of our politicians and senior staff.

Reply to  Dubious
9 July 2018 6:52 am

so when are you putting your name in, but of course you may have done so already – no one called Dubious on the list. Can’t hide on the ballot with an alias.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  truthdigger
9 July 2018 8:45 am

Ken Strauss used to be a regular here and then went off the air.
Dubious mysteriously appeared with the same opinions as Mr. Strauss.
Could it be?

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
9 July 2018 9:04 am

Maybe Ken is hiding behind the grassy knoll.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
9 July 2018 11:23 am

maybe hiding behind a grassy troll, aka pseudonym.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
9 July 2018 11:27 am

like “ryan said” or 443 878 305?

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Frenchy
9 July 2018 11:36 am

Your personal animus and vindictiveness knows no bounds. Publishing peoples government bank account numbers? Obviously you have no respect for the privacy of such numbers or of other people. Btw, that is not my namber.

6 July 2018 9:03 pm

I’m trying to understand the rationale for the change. According to John’s numbers it will cost $900,000 or $25 per family more than the current plan. That amount does not appear to account for the costs for the purchase of the “free” grey/green boxes nor for the additional labour for separation by the residents nor for the storage of additional boxes nor… Why?

Reply to  Dubious
6 July 2018 9:23 pm

I didn’t delve into the numbers but the new system will be better for the environment no question. If that is the rationale then so be it.

Another Newbie to Cobourg
Reply to  Dubious
7 July 2018 8:46 am

When you move from the GTA like my wife & I did recently where this type of recycling is the norm, it makes you think of how much waste goes to landfill. I’m disgusted with what I put into a green bag each week here in Cobourg that is food waste. Everyone should feel the same way. It’s all biodegradable and we need to get moving on this program ASAP! I’d love for it to start immediately even if it was rolled out slowly by area instead of all at once.
Get use to this because it’s the future. It’s not difficult at all.

Another Cobourg

Reply to  Dubious
7 July 2018 8:47 am

there is no downside to this program the only problem is that it comes 25 years too late to save the cost of a new landfill site. Using dubious’s math we will offset the $900,000 very easily by diverting compostables for every tonne of compostable you divert you save one ton of landfill capacity.

Reply to  democrat
7 July 2018 7:21 pm

If you look at John’s numbers a “Landfill Capacity Savings ($350,000)” is already included so the annual cost would be $1.25M without considering the savings. Landfill capacity is based on volume rather than by weight so your “tonne of compostables” is an irrelevant measurement. An advantage of Cobourg is that most of us have room for compositing in our yards rather than having to store waste and then pay to ship it away.

Walter L. Luedtke
Reply to  Dubious
7 July 2018 9:50 am

Good to see that Duby has uncovered a scheme whereby the County has joined the Town in finding new ways of nicking the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.
An extra $25 per family per year?
And unpaid labour separating garbage.
On top of unpaid labour shoveling sidewalks.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
7 July 2018 10:08 am

Dubious is the superhero of the Pinched Penny.

Reply to  Wally Keeler
7 July 2018 12:50 pm

Wally, you make it sound like it’s a bad thing to watch what one spends. There’s nothing wrong with cutting out excessive spending in government. If politicians tighten their belts a bit here and a bit there, imagine how quickly money would add up and in turn go towards more important services, etc. I’m sure many would agree that government at all levels should adopt a more frugal approach and cut waste.

In terms of the new changes to the recycling program, I believe that it is a good idea. Although it may be viewed as a nuisance to many (myself included after it was adopted in my community) ,it doesn’t take long to get used to it and it really is better in the long run. .

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Susie-Q
7 July 2018 2:28 pm

Of course, of course, of course. It strengthens the fact that Dubious is, indeed, the superhero of the Pinched Penny in these parts..

Reply to  Walter L. Luedtke
7 July 2018 7:22 pm

I realize that for some their personal labour has no value. That is not true for everyone.