Marathon, Ont., to end curbside recycling citing cost

There’s no need to buy another box of blue bags if you live in Marathon, Ont., as town council voted this month to discontinue curbside pickup of recyclables.

It means the recycling program, which picked up plastics, metal and aluminum cans, cardboard and glass is now a thing of the past.

The reason for the cancellation is the cost. GFL Enrivonmental, which was the contractor to pick up and ship the town’s recyclables, increased its cost to the town by $120,000 per year, meaning Marathon would pay about $320,000 annually for its recyclables to be hauled away.

The town has a population of just under 3,300 people, with recycling costing about $100 per person, annually.

“The cost of labour and the cost of logistics and transportation makes things very difficult,” said Daryl Skworchinski, the CAO/Clerk in Marathon.

“Recycling, of course, is a good thing to do, but it only works economically when you have the factors in place.” 

Skwochinski said small and remote communities, like Marathon, situated halfway between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie don’t have the economies of scale needed for an efficient recycling program.

He said GFL changed how it administers its recycling program, and instead of using a transport trailer to haul goods, now uses a series of smaller bins which require more hauling, as well as more bins, which are paid for by the town.

Skworchinski said the decision has divided people in town.

“There’s certainly concerned residents who have environment top of mind, and rightly so, and want to see recycling continue in Marathon. And there’s also the other side of the equation, where people say, ‘I can’t afford for my taxes to go up exponentially to support a program like recycling, that ultimately should be a provincial responsibility.'”

He wants the province to announce how a new set of rules, known as ‘producer pays’ will make recycling possible in smaller communities throughout Ontario. Those details are still trickling down from the province, he said.

In the meantime, the town hopes it will have a system in place by March to recycle aluminum and metal cans. Glass will also continue to be accepted at the waste transfer station and will be crushed, Skworchinski said.

Other materials, like hazardous waste, scrap metal, white metal as well as yard waste will continue to be collected by the town, he said.

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