It seems many residents are still learning what goes in the Langley City green waste cans, and what doesn't.
The start of 2013 brought changes to City garbage and recycling rules, including sorting out most food and kitchen waste, including bones, dairy, and meat. The City has sent out information packages and posted online details as well but there's still a learning curve.
"I was red-tagged this week," Mayor Peter Fassbender commented at Monday's council meeting, "because I bought green compostable bags."
The City's waste and recycling contractor tags items that aren't acceptable.
Several people have asked about using compostable plastic bags. City engineering director Gary Vlieg explained why the bags, even though they eventually decompose, are not allowed.
"It interferes with the composting process," Vlieg explained.
The green waste takes six to eight weeks to compost but the compostable plastic bags take much longer to break down so they cannot be used in the City's green can program.
People can use compostable kraft (brown paper) bags but not plastics.
Vlieg reviewed the other top questions coming from residents.
Some people are asking about having a more automated system such as Surrey's in which the trucks can pick up the bins, also called toters. Others want to have larger green bins.
But the City restricts garbage can and green can size to a maximum of 77 litres because they must be lifted by the waste contractor staff.
"Our size is based on WorkSafe regulations," said Vlieg.
When the contract goes out to tender, the City will ask about different options including larger toters.
Surrey has an automated collection system which costs residents an extra $15 per home per year for 10 years. Another option could be different charges based on how much garbage people produce.
Vlieg said people have also asked about taxes. Disposing of green waste with a composting company costs about half the price of disposing of garbage in the landfill.
Staff calculated that if residents' garbage amounts drop by 15 per cent as they divert green waste, the extra savings will cover increased budget costs for waste disposal so residents won't see a tax increase for those services.
Vlieg told the Langley Advance that the City expects to start getting tonnages in February on the amounts of green waste and garbage so the diversion rate can be calculated.
The City is also being asked when multi-family complexes will get green waste services. Multi-family homes use waste collection companies but have their blue bin recycling through the City. Vlieg said people in multi-family units can ask their waste haulers about green waste.
He added that multi-family units will have to become greener. Provincial rules require changes to be made by 2015, including green waste diversion and more plastics recycling. The rules apply to multifamily as well as institutional and commercial sites.