December 16, 2009
Media Release

Mandatory use of compostable bags in Green Bin program by 2011

York Region to phase in mandatory compostable liners to improve diversion rate
NEWMARKET – The Regional Municipality of York will phase in a mandatory shift to certified compostable bags in the Region’s Green Bin program to decrease plastic waste, improve organic diversion and continue leadership in waste management.
 
The Green Bin program has run Region-wide for over two years, resulting in the curbside collection of approximately 86,000 tonnes of organics per year.  In August, the Region began a compostable bag pilot program, mailing compostable bag samples and education materials to all residents, promoting the benefits of using certified compostable bags as Green Bin liners.  The pilot found that an overwhelming number of participants supported a mandatory shift to compostable bags in an effort to improve the Region’s Green Bin program.
 
“York Region collects more Green Bin material per household than any other municipality in the Greater Toronto Area, making it one of the most successful organic diversion programs in Ontario,” said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch.  “With compostable bags readily available, York Region is working even harder with our area municipalities to reduce and eliminate plastics from our Green Bin program.”
 
In 2010, York Region will undertake a promotional campaign to educate and encourage residents to permanently make the switch from plastic to certified compostable bag liners in their Green Bins.  During this year-long voluntary phase, plastic bags will still be accepted in York Region Green Bins as local municipalities amend local waste collection by-laws to support a mandatory program. 
 
Transition to the mandatory use of certified compostable bags is anticipated to begin in January 2011, with enforcement beginning May 1, 2011.
 
“York Region’s Green Bin success is due to its convenience,” said City of Vaughan Regional Councillor Mario Ferri, Chair of the Region’s Environmental Services Committee.  “Because of enthusiastic participation in the Green Bin program to date, switching from plastic to certified compostable bags should be a smooth transition as residents recognize the environmental benefits.”
 
Unlike plastic bags, which must be removed during the composting process and disposed of, certified compostable liners are made from cornstarch or plant-based materials that break down completely during the composting process. 
 
Currently, plastic bags represent approximately six per cent of the total tonnage of Green Bin material that York Region sends for processing.
 
Certified compostable bags are available at many grocery, hardware and retail locations across York Region.  They are marked with a Compostable BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute) logo on the packaging.  Visit www.york.ca/waste for full details of the Green Bin Compostable Bag program and a list of certified compostable bag retailers.
 
In 2008, the Green Bin program accounted for nearly one third of the Region’s 182,547 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill.
 
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
 
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Media Contact: Michelle Dudzik, Communications Specialist, York Region
                      Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 1209 or Cell: 905 716-0994
                      Email:  michelle.dudzik@york.ca

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