We want to know about your current household cart set out behavior and what would influence you to change your habits.

The City is evaluating the practicality of a variable set-out program to single-family households that charges customers based on the amount of waste they produce. The core principle is that not all households generate the same amount of waste and that those households that generate less waste should pay less. This improves customer fairness and incentivizes customers to reduce or prevent recyclables, food scraps and yard waste from going to the garbage. Sorting materials correctly helps all households maximize the use of all three carts, and reduce the amount of garbage put out for collection.

Right now, The City tips carts that are set out whether there is waste in them or not. Drivers cannot tell if a cart is empty until it is tipped. We are exploring to see if a system that allows households to pay per pick-up will encourage people to only set out their carts when they want them collected. This type of system can lead to:

    • customer cost savings,
    • more efficient service delivery and
    • tidier alleyways and neighborhoods.

Do you set out your carts because it is the scheduled collection day, part of a chore list, you received a City reminder or your cart is full?

Whatever the reason, we want to better understand your current cart set out behaviors such as how often you set out your carts and why, your motivation for setting out carts, opinions on reducing cart set out for curbside pickup and if you would consider changing your behavior if there was an incentive.

Understanding your needs will help us determine how, or if, this program could work for Calgarians.

Tell us how often and why you set-out your waste bins for collection until September 30.


What is variable set-out?

Variable set-out involves implementing a model, similar to utility (energy, water and gas) pricing where customers are charged a portion of their fees based on how often they set out their carts for collection in a billing period.

Why are we doing this public engagement survey?

The City of Calgary is working on developing a plan to pilot variable set-out in 2021. In order to do this, it is important that we understand a few things from our customers, which include why people make the decision to set-out their carts on collection day, if people may consider setting out their carts less often. Information gathered from this survey will help us decide if this would work for our customers or how best to design and pilot the variable set-out in a way that works best for our customers.

Is this survey the same as the one I did over the phone in July? Do I need to do it again?

In some ways the survey is similar to the one in July, however the July survey was research-based, covering a small but representative sample of single-family residents. This online survey provides an opportunity for all single-family residents that would like to their voice heard to provide input.

Will The City be considering adding weekly black bin collection as part of this project?

At this point, The City is not considering changing the collection schedule back to weekly. Cart capacity audits conducted by Waste & Recycling Services (WRS) in 2018 and 2019 found that approximately 40 per cent of black carts checked appeared to be, at most, half-full on collection day.

What is Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT)?

PAYT is a pricing model that charges customers based on the amount of garbage they put out for collection. The core principle of this model is that households that generate less waste should pay less. Pay-as-you-throw for residential waste collection provides customer choice and flexibility, and a more equitable way of charging residents based on the volume of waste they produce.

How would this program save waste from going to the landfill?

Paying for the amount of waste you put out provides an incentive to encourage households to reduce and divert waste even further. Studies indicate that PAYT programs typically does achieve additional diversion in communities that introduce it, with diversion ranging between three to six per cent.

How would the billing work?

Billing based on cart set-out is primarily managed through the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. With this technology, each cart is fitted with a RFID chip linked to an address and a customer. The chip information is read by a reader on the truck when the cart is emptied. Customers are then billed using information collected through the reader.

Some costs are incurred whether or not households set-out their carts on collection day. These are known as fixed costs and include items such as: truck leases, truck operating costs and customer support. Details of the portion of the fees that will be fixed or variable will be determined at a pilot stage.

Will households save on their monthly garbage fees even when a portion of the fee is fixed?

By not setting-out empty or almost empty carts on collection day, The City is able to keep costs down and subsequently, rates charged to customers. Potential actual savings will be determined at a pilot stage.


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Please click submit after completing each section below.

We would like to know where participants in this engagement live. Please click here to find out what Ward you live in if you are not sure.

1) How often do you set out your black cart for collection?
2) What influences you to set out your black cart for collection?

Select all that apply

3) If The City asked you to set out your black cart only when needed rather than every collection day, how likely are you to try to set it out for collection less often?
4) What concerns do you have setting out your black cart less often than you currently do?

Select all that apply

5) Do you think paying for garbage based on how often you set out your cart is a fair payment model (similar to electricity, water and other utilities)?
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The survey form is now closed. Thanks for your contributions.


A What We Heard report will be completed once all the input has been reviewed and posted on this website. The What We Heard report will inform a detailed pilot plan for variable cart set-out for presentation to Council in 2021.