Waste report shows disposal trends
By Chad Ingram
If you want to avoid traffic at an Algonquin Highlands landfill this summer, try not going on a holiday Monday.
During an April 4 meeting, councillors for the township received a staff report on solid waste management for 2018.
According to the report, the collective traffic flow though the township’s four landfills and one transfer station was just more than 60,000 vehicles for the year. Much of that traffic count manifests itself during the cottaging season of the summer months, and within those summer months, long weekends stand out as the periods of heaviest traffic.
“An analysis of summer traffic by day of the week (during 24 weeks from May 2 to Oct. 10, Thanksgiving, 2017) show us significant peaks,” the report reads. “It is quite evident where the long weekends occur. Sunday traffic is heavy across all sites, holiday Monday traffic is the heaviest. This analysis, and input from attendants, identified Fridays (particularly at Maple and Dorset) as heavy traffic days, much more than Saturdays.”
A graph showed vehicles per day for holiday Mondays ranging from more than 600 to almost 850. The township operates landfills at Maple Lake, Hawk Lake, Pine Springs and Oxtongue Lake, and a transfer station at Dorset. Staff adjustments were made to accommodate these peak periods in 2018.
As for the type of waste residents are bringing to disposal sites, by weight, 42 per cent of the waste collected in 2018 was household garbage; 27 per cent was construction and demolition waste; nine per cent fibre; eight per cent scrap metal; eight per cent containers; four per cent mattresses; and two per cent was constituted by electronic and hazardous household waste.
About 85,000 bags of household garbage were brought to Algonquin Highlands landfills in 2018.
The waste diversion rate for residential waste in the township has hovered at around 35 per cent for the past few years. The residue rate – “residue” is material that must be removed from blue boxes in order for the material to be recycled – has climbed during the past few years. While in 2014 the township’s residue rate was approximately 10 per cent, it was 16 per cent for 2018.
“This is in large part due to stricter requirements for saleable product necessitating increased sorting and removal of more materials as residue,” the report reads. “Changes in market demand means there is much less tolerance for improper or dirty materials.”
Mayor Carol Moffatt said the report shows “how tremendous public participation is in our programs, but at the same time, how much better we can do.”
Operations manager Adam Thorn said the township is trying to increase public education. Residents may not know, for example, that if plastic containers are not clean of food, they go into general waste, or that recyclables should be deposited in bins loosely, not in bags.
Two of the township’s landfills – at Hawk Lake and Pine Springs – are reaching the end of their lifespans, with approximately three and four and half years remaining, respectively. The lifespan for the landfill at Maple Lake is estimated at just less than 60 years, and the one at Oxtongue Lake just more than 70.
“Managing waste is going to be a huge challenge and a huge problem for all the municipalities going forward,” Moffatt said.
The report also shows that the addition of a compactor at the Dorset transfer station in 2016 is saving the township money on haulage.