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Markham's new $100M waste contract builds on city's sustainability, but 'trashy neighbours' need to clean up their act
April 19, 2022

While Earth Day, on April 22, is a reminder for us to take care of the planet, it’s the daily habits we cultivate that can help the environment.

The city’s new waste contract, for example, demonstrates a continued commitment to an award-winning legacy of environmental sustainability.

While garbage collection is still being collected on the same days and times, blue box recyclables are now being collected separately from green bin organics and clear bag garbage by two separate trucks under the city’s new eight-year, $100-million contract with Miller Waste Systems.

“What I really love about Miller is they work hand-in-hand with us to make sure that we are leading when it comes to sustainability and waste diversion and looking at every opportunity that's available to make our world a more greener place,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti said during the official launch of the contract last month.

Fifty new trucks under an expanded fleet were also part of the contract, in anticipation of the province’s implementation of a producer-pay blue box model from 2023-2025.

“We’re still waiting to hear all of the details of that, but we knew that change was coming, so we were proactive in making sure that we didn't tie in capital dollars into trucks that would then be obsolete when the new system comes in place,” Scarpitti said.

The new contract helps the city to continue to build on its award-winning environmental sustainability program and its waste diversion rate, which is one of, if not the highest, in Canada, he added.

As of 2021, 30 tonnes of Styrofoam packaging have been recycled at Markham’s four recycling depots since the city banned it from curbside collection.

Markham’s textile recycling program has collected more than 20 million pounds of donations, resulting in unwanted textiles diverted from landfill and incineration, creating local jobs and supporting Markham communities.

“The city’s environmental initiatives and excellent service levels go hand-in-hand with our residents' commitment to properly sort their waste materials and increase waste diversion,” said Scarpitti.

That may be, but some area residents think there are more than a few people who need to clean up their act when it comes to their garbage.

“It’s ridiculous, garbage is everywhere and it’s a huge problem in Markham,” said Teresa Paz-Soldan, who picks up bags of garbage on her daily walks in her neighbourhood and around Monarch Park.

That includes cigarette butts, masks, plastic packaging and bottles along park pathways and ravines and windblown items from blue boxes strewn throughout the neighbourhood.

“Markham prides itself on being super nice and having million-dollar houses and yet everywhere you go, you have garbage. If you live in a million-dollar home, don’t leave your garbage lying all over the place,” she said.

“Some people put their extra items out and then just forget about it, but sometimes animals get into it or it gets destroyed from the weather and they don’t pick it up. It’s almost like if it is outside of my house, it doesn’t exist.”

With the “amazing garbage pickup” from the city, Paz-Soldan said there is also no need for people to fill park bins with their household garbage and even less reason to just dump it.

“You name it, it’s out there. It seems like more and more people don’t care,” she said, adding that bags of dog poo are everywhere.

“I even found bags of poo tossed on trees, so I had to pick it out with sticks out of the tree like they were ornaments, and put it in the garbage."

Box Grove residents share similar concerns over "trashy neighbours" that ruin beautiful neighbourhoods by dumping their garbage at plazas and other people's lawns.

Paz-Soldan suggested the city should consider ramping up fines to clean up the problem, since education doesn’t seem to be working.

“I know what garbage does to a community and this is not right,” she said.