Misuse of recycling adds up in dollars and impacts landfill space

Currently, at the Southampton Landfill site there are recycling bins and carts at the entrance, larger ones for cardboard and others adjacent to the weigh scale for the collection of glass, plastics and paper.

Unfortunately, as a result of misuse, there is often waste on the ground and, according to Director of Public Works, Amanda Froese, the bins are often contaminated with non-recyclable materials.  When contaminated, Bruce Area Solid Waste Recycle (BASWR), the recycling service contracted by the Town, will not pick up the bins but instead turn the bin backwards and the contents end up in the landfill.

                           This one is doomed for the landfill

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Landfill Staff work at cleaning up the material on the ground with BASWR cleaning up the remainder.  The Town of Saugeen Shores is one of the owners of BASWR and has a garbage collection contract, expiring in September of this year (2020).  BASWR picks up the recycling bins weekly but BASWR staff often empty them more than the once-a-week schedule.  BASWR informed the Town however, that this service could no longer be provided without an additional cost.

Under the Waste Management Master Plan, the entrance to the landfill is about to be redesigned beginning in Fall of this year or Spring of 2021. The new entrance will be fenced and gated so that the landfill will not be accessible after hours with the anticipated result of slowing down the misuse and contamination.


In moving forward, Town Staff has looked at two options, each of which has advantages and disadvantages.

  1. remove the recycling carts from the landfill site until next year when the new entrance is completed
  2. Continue the BASWR service with an extra pick-up on an as-needed basis until the new entrance is operational, at which time staff would re-evaluate the situation.

Under option one, the system would be simplified for town staff and BASWR as residents, transient (visitors) and otherwise, would rely solely on curb-side collection for recycling and would be encouraged to use see-through blue bags. Froese point out that, “The disadvantage with this option is that more people may choose to put their recyclables into the garbage instead.”

In option two of continuing with the current method, it does not solve the problem of contamination with non-recyclable items, such as milk cartons, or stop people from dropping off garbage at the recycle bins.

BASWR currently leases the land for the recycling depot at the Landfill site, which expires in May and staff requested that BASWR send a quotation for the extra service. The quote of $25,000 was received on January 15th with the proposed billing to start on February 1st.

Staff recommended paying BASWR to pick up the recycling bins at the Southampton landfill on the as-needed basis, until the new entrance is operational in 2021, with Staff reviewing the service at that time, and that the money required for this extra service be taken from landfill reserves.¬† “It would result in approximately $8,000 quarterly or $79 per hour,” said Froese.

Councilor John Rich, who sits on the BASWR board, said that in the past BASWR has made a profit but given the fall in commodity pricing, in 2019, it lost $200,000.¬† “They are trying to reduce their expenses as much as possible and to have a driver go to the site once a day and try to clean up the mess is an expense that they are looking at. There are a couple of big problems.¬† Cottagers who come up in the summer on weekends and leave on the Sunday, don’t want to leave their recycling out for the week and want to drop it off.¬† Unfortunately, some members of the community abuse that privilege and put a lot of contaminants in the recycling bins because they are not monitored.¬† For instance, when glass is mixed in with paper, the contents cannot be sorted by the equipment in the recycling facility.¬† Other members of BASWR, such as Kincardine, have larger bins that are gated off and have an employee that monitors.¬† I would like to see larger, gated-off bins at the Southampton site.¬† Paying $25,000 is almost like paying people to abuse the system but BASWR cannot give the service for free any longer.”

                                                                      Flattened Cardboard ONLY?

It is anticipated that paying BASWR to empty the carts more often will help to alleviate the cost of the extra work necessary to maintain the carts. “Town staff will work out the expectations with BASWR as to the collection and management of the costs against the benefits,” added Froese. “Spending out of the landfill reserve negatively affects the ability to pay for the expansion, however, the 2020 increased tipping fees could be an offsetting income source.”

“Our changes to the site will help us address these issues,” said Mayor Luke Charbonneau, “and we will re-visit it in the future.¬† It looks as though the Town of Saugeen Shores will get the same level of BASWR service as other communities and this seems fair.”