Unless you’re a city employee. Then maybe don’t cheer.

by Paul Dechene

The city has rolled out all its blue plastic recycling bins and we’ll finally get to see them in use on July 1 as Regina’s city-wide recycling program finally starts. The program will cost each single-family household $91.25 per year and will follow a bi-weekly collection schedule. You can find out your home’s pick-up days at regina.ca.

Getting your recyclables picked up every other week is a schedule that should be familiar to the many Reginans who, like me, had signed with Crown and Shred or Go Green Recycling. Also familiar to those many long-time recyclers is the fact that the amount of garbage a household produces drops dramatically once you sort out all the plastic, paper, glass and metal.

In fact, in our house, we’ve found that it can take nearly three months to fill our plastic roll-out garbage bin. But if we ever forget to put out our bin? We’d be buried under a mountain of recycling.

No wonder, then, that whenever I’ve visited places that already have comprehensive recycling programs, those cities have gone with a collection schedule completely opposite Regina’s: weekly recycling pickup and biweekly garbage.

I asked Neil Vandendort, the city’s director of open space and environmental services, if that’s a schedule Regina might look at.

“I think that’s definitely something that we’ll be considering going forward for the future,” says Vandendort. “And certainly what you’ve described is exactly what I’ve observed as well.”

But considering city council — against the advice of their administration — chose to contract out recycling collection to Loraas Disposal while leaving garbage collection an in-house responsibility, one has to wonder how increasing recycling collection will impact city crews. If the schedule changes, Loraas will gain work while the city’s waste collection team will be left with less to do.

“At this point we’re really just taking our first step at implementing bi-weekly recycling, so what we’re looking at is a scenario that’s definitely further down the road and that’s definitely one of the things that we’d have to take into consideration,” says Vandendort.

Tim Anderson, president of CUPE 21, the union for the city’s outside workers, was more blunt about what is coming for city workers.

“People do want to recycle. I know at my house the amount of garbage is cut 75 per cent because I recycle everything. So that is what’s going to happen, the municipal workforce is going to see a reduction in staff just due to the workload,” says Anderson.

“And then, I honestly think they’re going to contract out our garbage as well,” Anderson continues. “I think that Loraas is going to end up doing everything. They’re already doing the commercial [waste collection], they’re doing the small-vehicle transfer station at the landfill. And those are all programs that in my opinion were more cost effective to be kept in house.

But that’s the way that the mayor, council and senior administration seems to be going — contract, contract, contract.”