Changes coming to how recycling is collected in Kingston

The city could exit the recycling business in the coming years as the province transitions to a new system that makes the producers of waste responsible for their collection and recycling. As a result, the city’s recycling operations, including its processing facility and central Kingston collection routes, are to shut down by the middle of 2025. The changes could mean the six city workers who collect blue and grey boxes in the city’s central area could lose their jobs. “There is adequate time to explore solutions that will avoid any job loss and minimize the impact for employees,” stated a report to the city’s environment, infrastructure and transportation policies committee from Sheila Kidd, commissioner of transportation and public works. The changes are to also include the early cancellation of recycling collection contracts in the east and west parts of the city and businesses in the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area will likely need to find a new way to have their recycling collected as small commercial businesses are not included in the new provincial producer-responsible system. The city has been preparing for the changes for some time. The current recycling collection contracts for the east and west sides of the city, which began on July 1 and is to end in 2028, included a clause for early termination. The contract to operate the recycling facility was to expire on June 30 but was extended to mid-2025, about the time the city-run system is to wind down. “There may be interest from private contractors to lease or acquire the site operations, for either a pre-processing site or a transfer station, post transition,” Kidd wrote. “This could be a potential source of revenue for the city. Fleet assets that are no longer required could be declared surplus and sold.”The new recycling system is also to affect the disposal of hazardous waste. The city currently operates a household hazardous waste dropoff two days a week between April and November, which this year cost the city more than $180,000. As of October, Ontario municipalities will no longer be required to operate collection depots for hazardous waste. The new collection system will also require waste producer-funded systems to collect fewer hazardous products that the city depot accepts. Among the items that will no longer be collected are waste motor oil, pool chemicals and fire extinguishers. “There is a great degree of uncertainty regarding how the hazardous and special products regulations will be implemented, and the timeline between the release of the final regulation (June 8, 2021) and effective date (Oct. 1, 2021) is very short,” Kidd wrote. “For the remainder of the 2021 season, staff will maintain the current level of service offered at the city’s household hazardous waste depot.” Kidd’s report is to be received by the environment, infrastructure and transportation policies committee on Tuesday night.