City staff is recommending new rules for residents who drop off garbage and recyclables at the Robin Hood Bay Waste Management Facility in St. John’s to limit commercial abuse of the service.
According to the agenda for tonight’s council meeting, deputy city manager of public works Paul Mackey will recommend that council approve the proposed rule changes.
Commercial users are required to pay a tipping fee for garbage dropped off at the facility, but users of the residential drop-off (RDO) service can avail of it at no cost.
In a memorandum prepared by Robin Hood Bay’s manager of waste and recycling operations, Steve Colford said that while some informal guidelines have been developed since the free-to-use residential drop-off site opened, no formal rules have been put in place.
“Unfortunately, some commercial companies in the region are abusing the system by disposing of garbage from their business free of charge at the RDO,” wrote Colford in the memo.
Rental property owners, companies or residents who flip houses for quick profit and home contractors building one or two homes at a time are among those found to be abusing the system. Colford said legitimate commercial haulers are basically subsidizing those who unfairly use the residential drop-off site. He also identified other issues.
“Commercial businesses using the RDO bins can lead to increased wait times for the legitimate user,” he said in the memo.
“As well, it has resulted in a loss of tipping fees to the facility and an extra cost for transporting the waste to the main landfill.
The memo continued: “It has also resulted in increased staff time being spent dealing with the violators and claims of harassment by the individuals who are being questioned about the waste they are bringing in.”
The proposed rules cover four areas — vehicles themselves, the number of trips they make, documentation and household hazardous waste. Only small vehicles weighing up to one tonne will be permitted to drop-off waste at the residential site. If a vehicle has a trailer, it must not exceed 3.5 metres in length. Larger vehicles and commercial vehicles will be sent to the main landfill, where they must present a permit and pay tipping fees.
The new rules would also limit the number of annual visits to 16. Residents dropping off construction or demolition materials related to renovations or building a new home must have a municipal permit valued at less than $5,000 with them. In terms of household hazardous waste, none related to commercial use will be accepted — businesses will have to use a private hazardous materials handling company.
In 2013, RDO served approximately 180,000 vehicles at the Robin Hood Bay facility, resulting in 16,420 tonnes of waste, 165 tonnes of recycling and 1,350 tonnes of metal. For those where licence plate numbers were recorded, 99.8 per cent made 16 trips or less. One particular vehicle made 42 trips to the RDO in 2013.