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City’s delay in implementing clear garbage program questioned at Peterborough County council meeting

·3 min read

Peterborough County councillors are questioning why the city of Peterborough is still not implementing a clear bag garbage program, as all eight townships have already done so to encourage recycling and divert waste from landfills.

“It’s a very important subject that is staring us in the face as we move forward,” said Warden J. Murray Jones at county council’s regular meeting on Wednesday.

Douro-Dummer Township Deputy Mayor Karl Moher said the city has indicated the landfill site — shared between the city and county — now has a lifespan of 13 years. He asked county staff if there has been any motivation for the city to introduce their clear bag program sooner than later.

“That’s a major item and for any of us who have introduced clear bags in our municipalities, it wasn’t rocket science,” he said.

“It was fairly straight-forward and I just wonder why the city is dragging. I’m even getting phone calls from city residents ... about what’s holding them up.”

Jones said he is also getting comments from residents. “There’s a huge question mark there.”

Sheridan Graham, chief administrative officer for the county, explained that the city is undergoing a waste management master plan update which is looking at its organic process, and it intends to launch a clear bag program at the same time as an organic waste program, expected in late 2022 or 2023.

Janet Clarkson, mayor of Trent Lakes Township, said her municipality introduced clear bags about three years ago.

“I don’t understand where the lag on this is, either,” she said. “The reduction was just incredible, and I can’t believe, driving down the roads, how many (unclear) plastic bags you see. At our dump sites, we just don’t accept them. It doesn’t matter what their excuses are. If it’s not a clear bag, they take it home.”

“That’s the same as us,” said Jones, “and we’ve had a remarkable impact, all of us together, on the amount of garbage going into that landfill, and that’s dollars and cents going into your pockets and city pockets. So, it’s been a huge success.”

At the same meeting, council decided to set aside a review of potential options for full waste management until more information is available about full producer responsibility, in late 2022 or early 2023, and prior to the transition to full producer responsibility in 2024.

Full producer responsibility is a provincial plan to expand the blue box program, which recycles paper, plastics, glass, aluminum and steel, and make producers – companies that design, create and market products and packaging – financially responsible for managing and paying for the recycling of the full-life cycle of their products, according to a provincial website.

The first group of municipalities or First Nations will transfer responsibility of their blue box programs to producers on July 1, 2023. By Dec. 31, 2025, producers will be fully responsible for providing blue box services provincewide, it says.

Graham also reported that a consultant’s report on the county’s organics program will be presented to council in November.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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