December 18, 2008
Media Release

The Regional Municipality of York encourages residents to bio-bag it

Biodegradable bag promotion to support reduction of plastic bags in the Green Bin program
NEWMARKET – York Regional Council today approved development of an education and promotion program in 2009 to encourage residents to make the switch from plastic to biodegradable bags in our Green Bin program. 
By choosing biodegradable bags, residents will help the environment by creating less waste and improving the Green Bin program. 
“Enthusiastic participation of residents has produced excellent results since our region-wide implementation of the Green Bin program in 2007,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.   “Reducing the number of plastic bags entering our system will improve our operation, reduce our costs and allow us to achieve even better results.”
York Region’s Green Bin program currently accepts plastic in the form of bags, diapers, and sanitary products.  Allowing plastic liners or bags in the Green Bin provides a cleaner and safer collection process for residents and collection staff.  Accepting bags, diapers and sanitary products also contributes to a higher participation and diversion rate; however all plastic creates processing and residue issues during the composting process.
To improve the overall operation of our Green Bin program, residents will be encouraged to purchase biodegradable bags available at most grocery stores.  Costs for biodegradable bags are typically less than 10 cents per bag for small green bin kitchen containers, and in the range of 20 cents per bag for large green bin liners.  The Region will also encourage retailers to switch from plastic bags to biodegradable bags.
“We are always seeking to grow and improve our waste management programs in York Region,” said City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, Chair of the Region’s Solid Waste Committee.  “Reducing plastic bag use in our daily lives, including in the Green Bin program, is a sustainable choice for our community.”
In the short-term, introduction of a voluntary biodegradable bag program is anticipated to reduce plastic bag waste by an estimated 3 per cent, and could potentially drop York Region’s cost per diverted tonne of organic waste from $137 to $133.  York Regional Council has endorsed the long-term goal of eliminating plastic bags from the Green Bin program.
York Region’s Green Bin program was introduced in stages beginning in 2005, with all nine municipalities involved by September 2007.  York Region processed approximately 60,000 tonnes of organic material in 2007, diverting roughly 2,000 trucks of waste from landfill.
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Media Contact: Kim MacGillivray, Communications Specialist, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 1209 or Cell: 905 251-6412

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