FAQ: Solid Waste Utility Bylaw Changes June 2017

Show All

Multi-Stream Separation

  • What is organic waste?

    Organic waste is biodegradable material from animals and plants such as food and yard trimmings. Food-soiled paper products are also considered organic waste.

    Examples of organic waste commonly found in your kitchen and home are:

    • Vegetable peelings
    • Eggshells
    • Cheese, meat and bones
    • Coffee grounds and filters
    • Yard trimmings such as grass clippings, leaves, branches.
    • Food soiled napkins, plates.
  • What is garbage?

    Garbage is considered anything that is NOT biodegradable or recyclable. Examples of household garbage items are:

    • Disposable diapers
    • Bathroom garbage (adhesive bandages, sanitary items etc.)
    • Packaging that is made of more than one material, such as chip bags and candy wrappers
    • Carpeting
  • What is the benefit of separating my garbage, organics and recycling?

    By separating your waste into multiple streams - garbage, recyclables and organic material, you are contributing to a healthier environment and doing your part to extend the life of the Squamish Landfill. When food scraps are put in landfills, they produce methane -- a powerful greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. When composted properly, food scraps return nutrients to the soil, thus improving soil health and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers. By recycling, we are collectively reducing our dependency on the extraction of natural resources to create new products. Many citizens have already achieved near ‘zero waste’ solutions for their home.

  • My apartment building doesn’t recycle or compost, how do these changes affect me?

    The proposed changes will require all apartment, condominium and other multi-family homes to separate waste into garbage, recyclable and organic material. Your strata and property management company will work with your waste management contractor to set-up a system that works for your property.

  • Can we place compostable plastic bags in our organics tote?

    If you receive residential curbside pick-up, you cannot place plastic bags of any kind in your organics tote, even if they are labeled as ‘compostable’. Municipalities that have allowed compostable plastic bags in their organics programs report higher levels of contamination from all types of plastic, and the non-compostable plastics are much harder for the compost facility to identify and sort out. Paper bags, newspaper, or specially designed paper kitchen catcher liners (i.e.. Bag to Earth) are an acceptable alternative.

    If you do not receive residential curbside collection pick-up, please check with your waste management contractor to determine whether or not compostable plastic bags are accepted. If yes, please ensure the bag is marked with the certified "Compostable" logo. Plastic, biodegradable or oxy-degradable bags are not accepted.

  • How do I find out what goes in what bin?

    The District of Squamish will produce signage that can be posted in all multi-family complexes. You can also refer to our easy-to-use information sheet on what goes where, available for download here.

  • What if my business would rather participate in a food recovery program?

    Participating in a food recovery program is one of the best ways to divert your food waste, as it creates the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy. Find out more about the food recovery hierarchy here.

    More information on how you can participate in the food recovery programs in Squamish will be made available. 

  • My business uses disposable food packaging. Can I compost any of it?

    Many food-soiled papers such as pizza boxes and paper napkins are compostable. Let your waste management contractor know you intend to compost and recycle everything you can so they can help you set up the appropriate number of bins. Examples of compostable materials include some varieties of:

    • Pizza boxes
    • Paper towels/napkins
    • Paper egg cartons
    • Food-soiled newspaper
    • Waxed cardboard
    • Paper bags and paper liner bags used for collecting scraps
    • Uncoated paper plates/cups
    • Uncoated take-away food packaging
  • Will my waste collection contractor pick up separated organics?

    Under the new bylaw changes, strata buildings and all commercial, industrial and institutional properties/businesses will be required to work with their commercial waste collection providers to negotiate both a price and a system for collecting organics, recyclables and garbage. When the program is fully implemented, all citizens and businesses will be required to separate household waste into multiple totes – organics, recyclables and garbage. When choosing the size of your tote, we recommend considering the volume that you accumulate, the ideal frequency of pickup for the different streams, and whether or not you will be required to buy your own containers. If you don't produce much organic waste, consider connecting with your neighbours to discuss sharing containers and any associated waste pickup costs. 

  • Should I be concerned about odour?

    Some people have expressed concerns about the potential impact of organics relating to odour and animal/rodent attractants. As your organics are currently placed in your garbage tote, there should be no difference in odour based on proper handling. Each strata and business has the flexibility to set the frequency of individual pickups, and may adjust service accordingly. As you separate your recyclables, organics and garbage, you may determine that a weekly organic collection and biweekly garbage collection is sufficient. 

Clear Bags

  • What is the purpose of using clear bags for garbage?

    The requirement of clear plastic bags is intended to, among other things, increase participation from households or businesses that do not presently divert recyclables or organic material from the waste stream. Black garbage bags can hide a multitude of materials that should not be placed in the garbage, including toxic items (i.e. paint, solvents, batteries) and recyclables.

    Clear bag programs were first introduced in Canada in the early 2000s with strong success rates, and are receiving recognition in Ontario municipalities for reducing the amount of materials going into landfills.

    Progressive municipalities continue to assess what is in residents’ garbage bags to improve waste management practices.

    The most recent audit at the Squamish Landfill indicates that a high amount of food, paper, recyclables and household batteries are being sent to the landfill instead of being recycled. 

  • What about my privacy?

    If you have privacy or security concerns for specific items, you may use one coloured bag as a privacy bag.

  • What size should the privacy bag be?

    The District is considering two options for the size of the privacy bag:

    • One large dark bag the size of a standard garbage bag, or
    • One smaller grocery-sized bag nested within your clear bag
  • What happens if I don't use clear bags once the bylaw is adopted?

    It is our priority to encourage community-wide participation. Clear bags will help the District of Squamish identify residents, multi-family homes and businesses who do not recycle or compost. Clear bags will also help us to assess what is still being thrown away in order to improve our waste management practices.

    Ultimately, after a reasonable grace period, your dark coloured garbage bags may not be collected during scheduled collection pickup. 

  • Can I use a clear bag for my recyclables?

    No. Recyclables must remain loose in your recycling tote and not placed in plastic bags.

  • Why should we have to pay for clear garbage bags when I get bags for free from my local grocery store?

    Many grocery stores in Squamish no longer offer free bags at check-out. This practice of charging for grocery store bags encourages residents to use a reusable bag instead, which is a more sustainable practice/option. 

  • Where would I get clear garbage bags?

    The District of Squamish will work with retailers in the community to ensure that a variety of sizes of clear bags are available for purchase.

  • When I buy a clear garbage bag, is it going to cost me more?

    Clear garbage bags are expected to be similar in price to dark bags. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price should not differ significantly between clear and dark bags as they are made of the same material. Price differentials may occur between different retailers based on the individual bag size, closure type, brand name or packaging size.

  • What can I do with any extra dark bags I have?

    There will be a grace period after the bylaw is adopted, during which you can use your remaining dark garbage bags. 

  • Do other communities use clear garbage bags?

    Yes! The City of Guelph, Markham and Halifax all require clear garbage bags to be used by citizens. There are also many communities in Ontario, Nova Scotia and all of Prince Edward Island that have adopted this practice.

  • Can I place pet waste into my clear bag?

    Yes. Cat litter and dog waste may be placed directly into your clear bag. Dog waste collection bags can go directly into your clear bag no matter what colour they are; they do not need to be transparent.

  • Can I use the free vegetable bags from the grocery store to save money?

    Yes. Although not very strong, vegetable bags make excellent liners for smaller garbage cans around the house.

  • Don't using clear garbage bags encourage more plastic waste?

    Using plastic bags for your garbage is meant to ensure that garbage doesn’t spread beyond the landfill footprint, due to the wind and birds. This is crucial to reducing the potential spread of diseases that can be associated with exposure to garbage.

General Questions

  • Why is the District proposing these changes?

    The District is responsible for managing the waste delivered to the Squamish Landfill as well as meeting the goals set out in the Squamish Lillooet Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan and in the District of Squamish Zero Waste Strategy, which were derived from public input.

    Removing organics and other recyclables from our landfill will help the District reach a goal of zero waste. It also recovers nutrients through composting, and saves the extraction of natural resources through recycling. 

    On average, residents and businesses in Squamish sent 676 kg of waste to the Squamish Landfill in 2016. Landfill audits revealed that over 65% of what was being tossed into the garbage in Squamish could either be recycled or composted. Of this, approximately 80% of what ends up in the landfill is derived from businesses/institutions/industry and multi-family complexes. The District is proposing these changes to further divert recyclable and compostable materials from our very full landfill, and reduce the impact of our community on the environment overall. 

  • When will the draft bylaw be presented to Council?

    The draft bylaw is scheduled to be discussed at the Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, July 11, 2017.

  • How will the bylaw be enforced?

    Enforcement will be directed at businesses and residential buildings that generate waste. Businesses and residential buildings will be responsible for ensuring that waste is separated into multiple streams (recycling, organics and garbage) and that it does not become a wildlife attractant. They will also be responsible for monitoring their own bins for contamination. The District in turn will work with waste collection providers to help determine who is not complying with the bylaw. There will be a grace period during which businesses and residential buildings will be informed of infractions and will not be fined. After that, bylaw enforcement will be phased in.

  • What is the District doing to help businesses and strata corporations comply with the proposed bylaw?

    We recognize this will be a significant change for some, and are currently engaging and consulting with businesses and multi-family home property managers on the details.

    Following bylaw adoption, the District will work to help provide signage and educational materials to help with the implementation for residents of the complexes, employees, contractors etc.

    There will be a grace period during which businesses and residential buildings will be informed of infractions and will not be fined. After that, bylaw enforcement will be phased in.

Post your comment


  • Geri LoGiacco Jul 19, 2017, 5:40 PM (4 years ago)

    Will the District be using bylaw officers to spot check the curbside bins? This is my second time asking you this question.

  • Tim Cyr Jul 19, 2017, 6:00 AM (4 years ago)

    Hi ... when you go to some of the bigger food chains to ask them to stock clear plastic bags, can you go to the dollar stores as well .... thank you

  • Nick Jun 16, 2017, 4:00 PM (4 years ago)

    I have a secondary suite and a second set of garbage and recycling bins for them, but we often mix garbage between the bins. If my tenants fail to separate their streams will enforcement action be directed at me as the owner?

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments