If you're a Surrey resident, chances are the city has already dropped off three big plastic waste containers in your driveway.
The city's Rethink Waste program, with household collection starting Oct. 1, calls on residents to separate their organic kitchen waste - coffee grounds, fish bones and leftover broccoli, to name a few examples - from the non-biodegradable stuff, and chuck it into the green "organics" bin. This stuff, along with yard trimmings, will be carted off to a "non-thermal" facility where it will be broken down and turned into fertilizer.
The black bin labeled "garbage" is for your plastic bags, diapers, rags and other non-biodegradable whatnot, while the blue bin labeled "recyclable" is for your newsprint and milk jugs, for example.
The green organics bin will be picked up every week while the blue recyclable bin will be picked up every other week. The black garbage bin will also be picked up every other week, alternating with the blue bin.
If you're wondering what to do with your old cans, Surrey's deputy operations manager Rob Costanzo says a notice will be sent out to households about a week prior to the first pick-up, outlining your options.
You can either keep your old garbage cans and use them for extra trash (which will be picked up at an extra cost), or leave them at the curbside - city hall will let you known when - so a crew can cart them away to be recycled into new garbage cans.
Whatever the case, Costanzo says they won't be dumped into a landfill.
The goal, which gave rise to the Rethink Waste program, is to divert 70 per cent of the region's waste by 2015. Starting that same year, organic waste will be banned from landfills.
Costanzo notes that while the city is calling on residents to sort their trash out differently, it doesn't mean the garbage man will be picking up less garbage than before.
"The cost of the service is not increasing."
The type of organic garbage you may put in your "organics" bin includes meat, poultry, bones, fish, seafood, egg and dairy, vegetables, fruit, bread, dough, pasta, grains, coffee grounds, paper filters, tea bags, used paper towels, napkins, paper plates, pizza boxes, garden waste, plants, leaves, branches, flowers and grass clippings.
What you shouldn't put in that box are plastics - not even biodegradable or compostable plastics - or pet waste.
Included inside your new "organics" box you'll find a small green box, roughly about the size of an ice cream pail, along with a couple complimentary paper liner bags. This is to collect your organic kitchen waste in.
Some might find the container small, but Costanzo says most participants in a 2,000-household pilot project in Surrey found "this is definitely big enough."
The city will be selling the paper "bin liners" for $1 per pack of 10 at city facilities, such as recreation centres, at 11 locations in Surrey yet to be announced.
The cost of these bags would work out to about $36.50 per year for an average household, Costanzo reckons. "A buck for a pack of 10 is a pretty reasonable deal," he says, adding that the city won't be profiting from their sale. "The cost of the bag is what we purchase it for."
An outfit called "Bag to Earth" in Napanee, Ontario, produces the totally biodegradable and compostable bags.
If you don't want to buy the bags, you can always use old newspapers.
"The best free no cost solution would be to use old newspapers as liners," Costanzo offers. "This is my personal preferred choice at home as it is effective in absorbing any liquidly waste within the kitchen catcher, and it's free.
"The other no cost solution would be to use no liner at all, although this is not as recommended as it requires more effort, frequency, in washing out the kitchen catcher."