It has taken three years to get here, but the City of Saint John is in the stretch run for the introduction of a new garbage collection system.
If everything goes as planned, Saint Johners will no longer have to lug recyclables to the blue bin depots after Oct. 23.
The depots will be decommissioned when the new system goes into operation.
In an effort to cut down on the amount of garbage going into the landfill, the city will also limiting each household to one 180-litre container full of garbage every two weeks.
Tim O'Reilly, the city's transportation commissioner, says the containers will hold "a little more than two large garbage bags."
Any more, and the household will have to buy tags for additional garbage bags.
O'Reilly said the change will have its challenges, but a pilot project showed the model works well.
"The overwhelming response was positive with this new model and certainly some specific feedback we've taken into consideration as part of this [rollout]."
Need to know
Starting on Sept. 12, the city will begin delivering garbage containers and recycling bins to households, including buildings that have four or fewer apartments.
Larger apartment buildings are considered commercial operations and are responsible for hiring private garbage collection.
Delivery is expected to be completed by Oct. 16, a week before the program is scheduled to launch.
Garbage will be collected every two weeks, with composting collected on alternate weeks. Recycling will be collected on the night before garbage or composting is scheduled to be picked up in a neighbourhood.
Bag tags will cost $2 each and will also be required for objects that are too big to fit in the garbage container, a small appliance such as a vacuum cleaner, for example.
O'Reilly said the city is working on agreements to allow people to buy tags at locations around the city.
"We'll have some of these in city hall, [and] eight different locations spread throughout the city. We're in the process now of setting up those agreements with different convenience stores, etc., to provide a convenient place for people to buy these," he said.
The city also plans to create a pilot project that would allow households that qualify to get a limited number of tags for free if needed.
Some areas will be exempt from using the garbage containers. The south end, the Old North End and Waterloo Village will continue to place garbage at the curbside in bags, but limited to one bag a week, a maximum of 80 litres in size.
Those areas will continue to have weekly garbage collection.
According to the documents presented to city council this past week, "these neighbourhoods typically have limited and/or no access to backyards, alley ways, or property frontage that would be required to store carts, compounded by the fact that many of these households are multi-unit."
Households in those areas will receive special tags to place on their curbside garbage.
The city will allow households to place untagged garbage bags for collection twice a year for seasonal events like Christmas holidays or spring cleanup.
Some neighbourhoods will see changes in their pickup day, as the city is reviewing routes to ensure the schedules are as efficient as possible.
That information will be available closer to the rollout date.
Implementing the new system will cost the city about $3 million, but O'Reilly said it will recoup those costs over time with expected tipping fee savings.
"We're estimating an eight or nine year payback period for that upfront investment," he said. "And again, the biggest benefit is, you know, it costs the environment and our landfill a lot less to process recycling and compost and garbage. So getting people to use that more is going to save taxpayers in the long run."