Solid Waste Master Plan

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The City is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan, to be completed in 2022. The plan will guide how we manage solid waste over the next 30 years. As Ottawa grows and changes, we want to ensure our waste services evolve to meet new needs and challenges. This page will be your hub for updates and opportunities to provide feedback.

Nothing has been decided yet – your input counts!

Managing solid waste is a shared responsibility, and every resident has a part to play. That’s why, over the next two years, we need meaningful conversations with you to help ensure the new Solid Waste Master Plan works for everyone.

The next round of engagement is due to start in early 2021 but, in the meantime, please ask your questions through the tab below and you can also sign-up to receive information about consultation opportunities and updates about the plan (at the top of the page).

The City is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan, to be completed in 2022. The plan will guide how we manage solid waste over the next 30 years. As Ottawa grows and changes, we want to ensure our waste services evolve to meet new needs and challenges. This page will be your hub for updates and opportunities to provide feedback.

Nothing has been decided yet – your input counts!

Managing solid waste is a shared responsibility, and every resident has a part to play. That’s why, over the next two years, we need meaningful conversations with you to help ensure the new Solid Waste Master Plan works for everyone.

The next round of engagement is due to start in early 2021 but, in the meantime, please ask your questions through the tab below and you can also sign-up to receive information about consultation opportunities and updates about the plan (at the top of the page).

If you have any questions on the Solid Waste Master Plan or the engagement process, please feel free to ask your question here. We will answer all feedback and questions within three business days. Please note if questions are specific, they will be answered via email and you must have an Engage Ottawa account to ask a question.

Do you have a question about the solid waste master plan?

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    Remote work will actually help municipalities to prosper, reduce waste, and make life more affordable with human resources that no longer have to commute, so another possibility is using the transit system to deliver goods, since fare paying citizens or children bused to school will not be required, in many cases, but first we have to figure out how much we are going to pay parents who home school, since elementary school teachers make $100,000 per year gross. Citizens paid the same will support the construction industry and the municipal tax base, but our costs will go down, so I think a lot of the ideas mentioned in your PDF report for the solid waste master plan make a lot of sense, such as tool lending libraries, repair cafes, elimination of single use plastics, home cooking, and so forth, since this is how we lived before daily hourly commutes, to or from work, fast food, or hectic lives became the norm, but then I spent a lot of time in a rural area, with my own well, septic bed, farm fresh eggs, home baked cakes and meals, so I applaud the ideas. Good work. More people will probably help with ideas too so that's how we can garner some better planning moving ahead for our families here in Ottawa. Have a great day.

    Carol Lever asked 4 months ago

    Thank you for your thoughtful opinions and ideas. We will be using your feedback, plus ideas collated throughout the engagement process, along with technical research, to inform the options for the Waste Plan. In December/January, through to February/March, we will be engaging on those options. This engagement series will be comprehensive as we will be using feedback to help develop the draft Waste Plan. I hope you can participate!

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    I would like to know the options that are being considered to help control the sheer volume of material that we see being placed curbside. Am aware of the current recycling and reuse initiatives available but Ottawa’s take-up of these programs is still lower than most large Canadian cities. There needs to be more effort directed towards ‘incentivizing’ the resident/taxpayer to encourage better individual control of the volume of waste material that is placed curbside. ‘Bag Limits’ and special tags are one option but come with additional administrative costs and inconvenience. I am reminded of the approach that I experienced some 30 years ago the city of Heidleberg, Germany. That city helped control the volume of household waste via an approach to ‘user pay’ that required all waste be placed in a special container that was 'leased' from the city. Residents could chose among Small-Medium-Large sizes (with accompanying tiered rental rates) so there was the incentive for the household to minimize the volume. The containers were designed similar to our Green Bin and intended to be handled primarily by mechanized devices. The garbage pick-up service simply would not remove anything that was not in one of these bins. In addition, there were special ‘large item’ pickup days scheduled twice in the year. Contrary to the fear commonly heard when bag limits are discussed in Ottawa, there was simply no evidence of residents trying to cheat by depositing their excess waste in unauthorized locations. The introduction of standard containers would also allow for modernization of handling that would include hydraulic loading (as is for the green Bin) as well as having the potential to accommodate the possible future use of ‘coding’ of bins. Is staff considering this type of approach among the alternatives to help helping to manage the volume of residential waste being placed curbside by residents?

    Ken asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. 


    Options for curbside collection are a major component of the research and analysis currently being undertaken as we go through the process of developing the Waste Plan. Pay as you throw, bag/container limits, container standardization, automation of collection, container tracking and large item pick up limits are all options on the table. 


    In addition, a wide variety of options for the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste will be considered, based on technical research and analysis and the feedback received through the engagement process. Both improvements to current programs and services will be considered as well as new initiatives that are deemed to be the most effective and relevant for the specific needs of Ottawa. Incentives and enforcement options will all be considered as well as new education initiatives aimed at informing the public and encouraging behavior change.


    As you mention below, new initiatives often come with a cost, and each option will be evaluated through a triple bottom line approach, ensuring consideration of environmental, social and financial aspects. 


    Options are being developed and evaluated over the next few months and we will be consulting on the options starting in December 2020/January 2021. We hope you continue to engage!

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    On garbage day, would there be an easy way to separately collect dry garbage from other garbage? Dry garbage (pallets, metals, hard plastics etc) do not have to go into a landfill, most can be reprocessed for other uses or at least be put into a non-garbage-landfill type area which would be much less costly

    Old guy asked 5 months ago

    Diversion of materials from the landfill is one of the top priorities of the on-going Solid Waste Master Plan. We are currently undergoing a thorough analysis as to how we can ensure the materials you mentioned stay out of the landfill and go on to have a second (or even third and fourth) life. We agree that many materials can be repurposed for other uses and that we need to work on finding those opportunities. Please stay tuned to the Solid Waste Master plan and provide feedback where you can!

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    In the US we collected plastic shopping bags and sent them to the company that makes Trex decking. After we reached a certain weight collected they sent us a plastic park bench. Is this program or anything similar available here? If we collected those plastics what would a company make for us?

    Old guy asked 5 months ago

    Ontario is switching to a full Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) model of recycling which will see producers become responsible for the waste that their products create. This will include both the packaging and the product themselves. The hope is that producers will be incentivized to come up with creative solutions to see their products being reused at the end of their life – such as the example you have outlined here. Ontario is currently drafting regulations as to how the new recycling system will look, but these kinds of ideas make the shift to EPR more exciting. Solid Waste Services will have more information in the coming months on EPR, so please stay tuned!

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    • I am concerned about the direction we are now taking for recycling Leaf and Garden waste. Notwithstanding the serious mismanagement accompanying the OrgaWorld contact and the later attempts to mitigate the situation, we have to find a more cost-effective way of handling Leaf and Garden Waste. Why, for example, do we haul Constance Bay’s huge amount of oak leaves on an hour-long drive fully across the city where they are expensively treated by OrgaWorld ? Are we considering the option of establishing some inexpensive on-ground composting facilities ( as was being conducted at Trail Road) across the rural areas in the way it used to be accomplished in West Carleton prior to amalgamation? Homeowners used to accept the responsibility of dropping off this material at these facilities.

    Ken asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. 


    Not all leaf and yard waste is sent to the Orgaworld facility for processing. The City does collect and compost leaf and yard waste at its own outdoor composting facility at Trail Road. No food waste is composted at this facility – it only processes leaf and yard waste that is set out separate from green bin material. This approach ensures that the amount of leaf and yard waste sent to Orgaworld is minimized and provides for maximum operational flexibility, especially during the spring and fall peaks when the City receives the most amount of this material.


    As part of the Waste Plan development process, different options to treat all source separated organic material, both household waste and leaf and yard waste, will be looked at. This will include both aerobic and anaerobic treatment options, including outdoor composting. 


    Your suggestion of decentralized outdoor composting facilities for rural areas, whereby homeowners would drop off this material at these facilities, will be compiled with all feedback for consideration. 

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    If the goal is diversion, why do we not have regular (eg twice a month) local (within about 15km of home) hazardous waste collection. Yes there is a cost. Is that a higher cost than having people dump in the sewers or the garbage bags?

    Old guy asked 5 months ago

    Thank you for your question. There is currently no legislative requirement for Ontario municipalities to collect Household Hazardous Waste, however the City has opted to deliver a collection program for household hazardous waste to provide residents with safe disposal options. Curbside waste audits have found little in the way of hazardous waste in the garbage; indicating that most residents manage this material responsibly.

    The City has been running mobile depot events since 2005 (prior to this, the City had a permanent depot at Trail Waste Facility). The events are hosted at various locations across the City in an attempt to offer residents at least one depot within a short driving distance from their home. The challenge in citing new locations is the space requirement for the events. A considerable amount of space is needed for hazardous waste storage, safe vehicle spacing, and a queue system that can accommodate the traffic that is associated with the events (on average, 2,000 vehicles attend each event hosted by the City!). These events, as you know, are offered between April and October each year. When the City offered winter hours at Trail Waste Facility, there was very low participation.

    The Provincial Government announced in 2018 that the responsibility for managing household hazardous waste will be placed on the companies that produce these materials, starting July 1 2021. This has the potential to impact our current collection program. As we move forward in developing the Solid Waste Master Plan, we will be evaluating options for collecting hazardous waste based on resident feedback, operational considerations, industry research, and the forthcoming Provincial changes to household hazardous waste to determine the most appropriate path forward.

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    As a resident of Ottawa, why do I have to pay when I take things to Trail Road?

    Old guy asked 5 months ago

    All residents of Ottawa pay a Solid Waste User Fee and fee for waste diversion services through the tax base. The Solid Waste User Fee (totalling $96 per property in 2020) covers curbside garbage collection and processing, long-term planning and capital replacement/debt. Waste diversion services are funded through the tax base and are based on the value of the property.  These services include the collection and processing of recyclables, household organic waste, leaf and yard waste and the Household Hazardous Waste Events. Currently, the average homeowner pays $38.00 for waste diversion services each year.

    Trail Waste Facility charges fees for residential garbage being brought to the site to cover the extra handling costs associated with operating the facility and disposing of the waste. Additional staff are required to monitor the residential disposal area to ensure a safe public drop-off location (including site cleaning and maintenance), and specialized equipment is required to transport the waste from the drop-off area to the landfill.  The disposal of recyclables at Trail Waste Facility continues to be offered at no cost to residents to encourage waste diversion and reduce the amount of waste being placed in the landfill. 

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    Has the City considered implementing direct costs for garbage pick-up based on quantity? Costs for a service that are paid at time of use (rather than in annual tax bills) can make the costs more immediate.

    ottawan1294869 asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Usage-pricing options, such as pay as you throw (or PAYT) are being explored through the Waste Plan development process. Currently, a wide range of best practices and innovative ideas are being explored to a) assess their success within other municipalities and b) evaluate their applicability to Ottawa. The pros and cons of all these options will be considered over the coming months as we continue to assess the current state of waste management in Ottawa and the gaps we need to address in order to develop an optimal waste management system. 


    The first engagement series is currently underway and ideas, such as implementing direct costs for garbage pick-up based on quantity, are very likely to come up in conversations we’ll be having over the next few weeks. The results from the survey and online dialogue sessions (which are now posted on Engage Ottawa) will be used to help inform options development for the Waste Plan. The options that are developed over the summer and Fall will then be presented for further engagement starting in December 2020. 

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    Durham Ontario has been successfully operating a "waste to energy" plant for many years. Will the options for Ottawa include incineration as a viable solution?

    terrymun asked 6 months ago

    Thank you for your question. Incineration technologies are indeed one of the many new and existing technologies that are being explored throughout Waste Plan development. Each option we consider will be assessed for its ability to help meet the goals of the Waste Plan, using a triple bottom line approach. The environmental, social and financial implications of the options, and their relevance to our city, will be explored thoroughly and systematically. 

    At this stage in the process we have conducted an in-depth review of various technologies, which is detailed in the Waste Management Technologies Technical Memo posted on Engage Ottawa. As we start to assess the gaps in the current waste management system in Ottawa each technology will be reviewed to evaluate its potential in helping us achieve the goals of the Waste Plan. We will also be engaging with the public on what they think about the current state of waste management in Ottawa and what they would like to see included in the Waste Plan throughout June and into early July. Please watch for a survey coming very soon on Engage Ottawa. 

    The research we are currently undertaking, and the feedback we receive from engagement, will be used to help inform the options for the Waste Plan. Those options will include any new and existing technologies that have the potential to advance our waste management system.  We will be asking for your input on these options towards the end of this year and into 2021. The final options will form the basis for the Waste Plan. 

    I hope you are able to engage throughout the process. 

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    The master plan Phase 1 report (and its Technical Memorandum #1) states that "for larger events such as the Dragon Boat Festival, there is currently no requirement for recycling/diversion as part of the events permit". Where does the waste from large events go? Does it go to the Trail Waste Facility, or to another facility at the discretion of the event organizer? Has the City of Ottawa evaluated (calculated) the waste diversion potential from imposing recycling/diversion to allow these events to obtain a permit? What kind of legislation (at the municipal level?) would be required to impose such a requirement?

    christenerz asked 7 months ago

    Currently, event organizers, such as the Dragon Boat Festival, are required to contract their own waste collection and processing services. Waste from special events is not managed by the Trail Road landfill, rather they are processed and disposed of a private facilities in contract with the special events organizers. As part of Phase 1, the City has not calculated the waste diversion potential from imposing recycling/diversion requirements on special events. As waste from special events is managed privately with no current requirements to share with the city the waste generation and diversion rates, it will be difficult to understand the true diversion potential of implementing a permit system requiring special events to divert their waste.  But because the waste is managed privately, such policy measures would not have an impact on extending the life of the City's Trail Road landfill, but would rather influence more sustainable waste management practices within the broader community. 


    As outlined in the Phase 1 report, the tools available to the City to influence how special events manage their waste is as follows:


    Special Events and Public and Private Property By-law (No. 2013-232)

    The City has established a system of permits and licenses for various types of events, including fairs and festivals on public and private property. The authority for the Special Events and Public and Private Property By-law comes under the public fairs and events powers of the Municipal Act, 2001, and allows the City to regulate cultural, recreational and educational events, including public fairs where there is an expected attendance of at least 500 persons.


    In light of these broad powers over special events on public and private property, Council could consider imposing conditions on special events permits in order to influence waste management and diversion. Such conditions may include requirements for source separation or implementation of waste management and diversion plans.