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Waste Management Transfer Station Fees

As part of the 2015 budget process, Regional Council has approved that the minimum charge at the Region of Waterloo's transfer stations will be $5, effective July 1, 2015. In the summer of 2013, the Waste Management Division introduced a minimum $2 charge for all loads received at the small vehicle transfer stations for disposal. Prior to 2013, there was no minimum charge, and all loads less than 50 kg were accepted free of charge. Although the loads were small, they represented a significant amount of waste and the Region incurred costs to handle it, whether it was disposed of in the landfill or diverted through other programs. The introduction of a minimum fee helped place some of those costs on the people and businesses who created the waste, rather than on the tax payers.

In addition to covering some of the costs of handling waste through the transfer stations, staff believe the minimum fee has also encouraged transfer station users to bring consolidated loads to the transfer station less frequently (e.g. once a month instead of once a week, thus reducing number of trips), or to use other waste diversion alternatives available in the community (such as commercial metal recyclers, or other free local business drop-off locations for items such as e-waste).

Staff encourage all residents to take full advantage of the curbside services available for their bags of garbage and large items/appliances, as these services are covered through property taxes and accessible to everyone. Not everyone uses the transfer stations (and many who do are from small businesses) and the fees charged at the transfer station mean those residents and businesses who choose to use this service pay for it directly, rather than having all taxpayers across the Region subsidize their waste disposal. The increase from a minimum charge of $2 to $5 is part of a gradual shift of this disposal cost from the tax payer to those who generate the waste. A minimum charge of $5 is still one of the lowest in the Province of Ontario, where other municipalities charge anywhere from a minimum of $5 to $20.

What about household hazardous waste?

Household hazardous and special wastes such as paint, motor oil, batteries, and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can all be dropped off at no charge. It is important to keep these potentially hazardous items out of the landfill to protect our surrounding environment. All residential household hazardous waste continues to be accepted for proper disposal at no charge.

Residents are also encouraged to find other local free drop-off locations:

  • For paint and lighting products that contain mercury (including compact fluorescent light bulbs), visit www.regeneration.ca, the Regeneration website to find a drop-off location near you. ReGeneration is a provincial stewardship program operated by Product Care Association. 
  • For single-use batteries, automotive chemicals such as antifreeze and oil, empty oil containers, oil filters, pressurized cylinders, and fertilizers and pesticides, check the Orange Drop Program website, www.makethedrop.ca to find a location near your home . (Please note that the Region is not permitted to accept business amounts of hazardous waste). 

What about recyclables not accepted curbside: e-waste, Styrofoam and scrap metal?

All of these items are still costly for the Region to handle. In order to encourage residents to separate these materials from garbage for disposal, all loads containing recyclable items only are charged at half the rate of garbage ($39 per tonne, instead of $79) but the minimum fee still applies.

Although we receive some revenue for scrap metal, e-waste and other recyclables, it is not enough to cover the cost for handling and transportation. Residents are encouraged to find free drop-off locations with local businesses for e-waste (visit www.recycleyourelectronics.ca for information) or large amounts of scrap metal.

Styrofoam is collected at the curb as garbage. Although we do offer limited Styrofoam recycling through the transfer station, this is for large packaging pieces of Styrofoam only (Styrofoam meat trays, egg cartons and packaging "peanuts" should go in the garbage). It is very expensive to transport and handle Styrofoam, and the Region must pay the recycler to take it. Many manufacturers are changing to use molded pulp forms in their packaging in place of Styrofoam. Molded pulp, like takeout drink trays and paper egg cartons, is similar to cardboard and can be crushed and collected in the blue box.

Reusable household goods, such as small appliances, clothing, and other household items are accepted free of charge at many charitable organizations around Waterloo Region. Goodwill Industries has a donation trailer on site at the Waterloo transfer station, but many other organizations will also accept these items free of charge, and some will even pick up from your door. Reusable building materials, such as wood, flooring, and cabinets are accepted by the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which has locations in Waterloo and Cambridge, as well as a seasonal donation trailer at the Waterloo transfer station. Residents are encouraged to find alternate reuse options for their waste whenever possible, including using online resources such as Freecycle and Kijiji.

What about yard waste?

Yard waste such as brush, grass clippings, hedge trimmings and leaves can all be composted for reuse as a soil amendment, and kept out of the landfill. There is no limit to the amount of yard waste that residents can put out at the curb for collection, as long as it is properly prepared according to collection standards for safe handling and to fit in the collection trucks. Organics in the landfill, whether from yard waste or kitchen scraps, contribute to the creation of landfill gas and possible odour issues. The cost to transport, grind and process yard waste for composting is still significant. Similar to recyclables, loads containing only yard waste are charged at half the rate of garbage ($39 per tonne, instead of $79), but the minimum fee still applies.

 

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