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Automated waste collection coming to Waterloo Region

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The Region of Waterloo is moving to a new method of waste collection.

Starting in March of 2026, the region will adopt an automated cart system for garbage and green bin collection.

The system is already in place in several neighbouring municipalities, including Guelph. Instead of leaving bags of garbage and green waste at the curb, residents will be using wheeled plastic bins. Once the bins are put out at the curb, a collection truck with a mechanical arm will come around and dump the contents into the truck.

Emterra Environmental was awarded the eight-year, $285 million contract for the service.

As a result of the change, affected residents will be receiving new bins.

“The cost of the bins is covered by the region. We do have capital money in our capital plan to purchase the bins for residents,” regional commissioner of engineering and environmental services Jennifer Rose explained during Wednesday night’s council meeting.

Rose also noted obtaining a contract for continued manual waste collection may have been a challenge.

“We are moving, as an industry, away from manual labour and bags because there simply isn’t the workforce out there who’s willing to do that type of work now that we have the cart system and the automated cart system with the vehicles.”

Waste sits on a curb in Waterloo Region on April 11, 2021. (Dan Lauckner/CTV Kitchener)

This change will not effect downtown waste collection.

“We are doing the study right now for downtown waste collection, and it is separate from the residential contract.” Rose said. “The details with respect to whether we’ll use carts or the bags system in the downtowns has not been finalized yet, but it is outside of this contract so it could be different.”

Bulky item, yard waste, and Christmas tree collection will not change.

The new fleet of trucks will also use compressed natural gas instead of diesel.

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