The Basics

What is automated curbside collection?

An automated collection truck is equipped with a mechanical arm to pick up standardized, wheeled carts to empty the material into the truck.

Similar to the current manual collection service, you are responsible for storing the carts and wheeling them to the street by 8 a.m. on collection day.

When will the automated curbside collection service begin?

The new automated curbside collection service will start in October 2020.

What are the benefits of automated collection service?

The new service will provide RDN residents with the following:

1. Improved service offerings:
  • Customizable collection cart sizes to best suit your household needs
  • No weight restrictions
  • Improved worker health and safety
  • Improved neighbourhood esthetics by keeping materials contained
  • Reduced human-wildlife interactions
2. Easy to roll carts with attached lids for convenient and efficient disposal of recyclables, food waste and garbage

3. Real-time information for better customer service

Who will be affected by these new automated collection service changes?

All RDN residents living in single family dwellings (except for City of Nanaimo residents who already receive automated service) who receive curbside collection service.

How I do I know if I am part of the new automated curbside collection service?

The new automated collection service will be provided to all RDN residential single family dwellings in the following communities (with the exception of City of Nanaimo residents who are serviced by City of Nanaimo Public Works) that currently receive manual curbside collection service of garbage, recycling and food waste from the RDN:

Area A - Cassidy, Cedar, Yellowpoint, South Wellington

Click here for the online RDN Utilities Property Information Map


What is the collection frequency?

As with current manual collection service, the food waste cart will be emptied every week, and the garbage and recycling carts will be emptied every two weeks on alternating weeks.

Is yard and garden waste part of the new service?

No, yard and garden waste will not be part of the new service.

The inclusion of residential yard and garden waste as part of the curbside collection was considered as an option during the Solid Waste Management Plan review and the curbside collection contract procurement process. 

Currently, most residents self-haul their yard and garden wastes to: 1) the Regional Landfill and the Church Road Transfer Station where the material is sent to Nanaimo Organic Waste for composting; 2) a number of private operated sites in the region where it is either composted or used as an industrial fuel; or 3) collected by a private hauling services. It is estimated that roughly 80% of yard and garden waste generated in the RDN is currently diverted from the landfill.

Based on recent consultation surveys, support for introducing yard and garden waste were varied and did not provide a clear distinction of preferred service by a majority of users. Those in support were largely based on increased convenience for those living in the member municipalities and higher density electoral areas. Ultimately, the Board decided not to include yard and garden waste collection as part of the RDN curbside collection service.


How many jobs will be lost due to the this transition from manual to automated collection service?

None! No jobs will be lost as a result of the switch from manual to automated collection service.

The RDN currently contracts for a service that uses manual collection trucks, operated by a 1 person crew who drives, and manually lifts the containers from the ground to the truck hopper to tip the waste into the truck.

Automated collection trucks consist of an articulated arm used to retrieve standardized carts, operated by a 1 person crew who remains in the cab at all times.

The manual garbage collection process is very labour intensive; the collection crew lifts on average 12,000 lb (5.4 tonnes) per worker per garbage and food waste collection day. The primary sources of injury stems from repetitive motion injuries, slips and trips, and exposure to sharp objects and infectious diseases.  The RDN joins cities like Nanaimo, Victoria, Surrey, Coquitlam and Richmond who have already opted to transition to automated collection service in effort to improve worker health and safety, and to reduce worker health and safety claims and associated costs.

The Carts

What carts will I receive?

In summer 2020, each RDN residential household (except City of Nanaimo residents who already receive this great service) will receive a set of wheeled carts: a blue recycling cart, a green food waste cart with gravity lock, and a black garbage cart. An information package outlining the details of the service, including directions for properly setting out the containers, will be delivered with the carts.

Do I have to pay for the carts separately?

No, the cost of the carts is included as part of your annual curbside utility fee. The curbside collection utility fee, determined by the garbage cart size, covers the cost of delivering solid waste collection services, including the collection of the 3 waste streams, as well as cost of the carts, the cost of disposal and processing of the material collected in the carts.


What are the available cart sizes?

The estimated annual curbside utility fee is determined by the garbage cart size. The default cart set is: 240L recycling, 100L food waste and 100L garbage. The 100L food waste cart is standard for all service levels. The utility fee will be the same for both the 240L and 360L recycling carts.


Can I pick my cart sizes?

Yes! You can pick your desired cart sizes based on your household needs. If you do not select your preferred cart sizes, you will receive a default set of carts: 240L recycling cart, 100L food waste cart and 100L garbage cart.

Is a 100L RECYCLING cart available?

Yes! Based on feedback from a number of residents, the RDN will offer a 100L RECYCLING cart in addition to the 240L and 360L RECYCLING cart options. Please keep in mind, all recyclables must fit inside the cart with the lid closed for collection, including cardboard boxes and rigid plastic containers, as the drivers will not be getting out of the truck to pick up any extra material placed out of the carts. Please note, if you opt to downsize to the 100L RECYCLING cart now and choose to upgrade to a large cart in the future, a cart exchange fee will be applied. 

The 240L (default) and 350L RECYCLING cart options are intended to allow for the storage of bulky items, as well as provide extra capacity for future recycling growth.

Can I downsize my GARBAGE cart as I do not generate much waste?

Yes! You can downsize from the default 100L GARBAGE cart to an 80L garbage cart if you deem the default cart is too large for your household's disposal needs.


How much does the carts hold?

The GARBAGE cart sizes are:

  • 80L (downsize option) - holds approximately 1 bag*
  • 100L (default cart size) - holds approximately 1.5 bags*
  • 240L (upsize option) - holds approximately 4 bags*
* standard 30 in X 38 in (76 cm X 96 cm) bag

The RECYCLING cart sizes are:
  • 100L (downsize option) - holds approximately 1.5 blue boxes**
  • 240L (default cart size) - holds approximately 4 blue boxes**
  • 360L (upsize option) - holds approximately 6 blue boxes *
** standard 19 in X 16 in X 13 in (48 cm X 40 cm X 31 cm) recycling box

What are the physical sizes of the carts?


Why was the 100L cart determined as the standard size for garbage?

The new 100L garbage carts that you will be provided for the new automated collection service is the same size permitted under Bylaw 1591 for the current manual collection service. The 100L garbage limit was designed to best suit most single family dwellings' household disposal needs, and to encourage recycling and composting to reduce the amount of garbage going into the landfill.

Why is the RDN providing such a large FOOD WASTE cart?

The new FOOD WASTE cart is double the size of the current food waste bin. The reasoning for the larger cart is to ensure the carts are compatible with the automated arms so they can be retrieved and emptied.

What do I do with the recyclables that I am currently putting into the yellow bag?

Everything can go into the new recycling cart! As with the current collection, the RDN is on a single stream recycling system, in which all paper fibers, plastics, metals, and other containers are mixed in a collection truck, instead of being sorted by the resident into separate commodities (newspaper, paperboard, corrugated fiberboard, plastic containers, etc.) and handled separately throughout the collection process. In single-stream, both the collection and processing systems are designed to handle this fully commingled mixture of recyclables, with materials being separated for reuse at a materials recovery facility.

Under the current program, the intent of the yellow bag is preserve the quality of the paper fibers to shelter it from the rain, and prevent loose material from littering the neighborhood as a result of the wind, which will no longer be an issue as everything will be housed inside the carts, away from the elements.

When the RDN transitions to the new automated collection, you can continue to use the yellow bags inside your home to save up your depot items such as film plastics, glass, Styrofoam or refundables.

Can I downsize my recycling cart?

The default recycling cart size is 240L. This cart size was determined to be the optimal size as it can accommodates today's recycling needs, while allowing for flexibility to meet future recycling demands

What about secondary suites?

Households with secondary suites will automatically be upsized to 360L recycling, 100L food waste and 240L garbage carts, unless otherwise requested.

Are bear proof carts available?

The RDN is home to a variety of wildlife, including raccoons and bears. The FOOD WASTE carts supplied to all RDN residents are equipped with gravity locks that automatically unlatch upon collection which cannot be easily opened by wildlife.

Residents will have the choice to upgrade to a more robust, WildSafeBC certified 240L bear-resistant cart at a one-time cost of $230 per cart, plus applicable annual waste processing cost.

For more information, please check out: bear-resistant cart

Can the bear resistant cart be used for the FOOD WASTE and GARBAGE streams?

The bear cart is intended for food waste to reduce the chance of attracting wildlife. Ideally, all food waste ends up in the green cart but we understand, in bear country, nothing is safe! If you deem it to be necessary for your area, the bear cart can be used for garbage as well. Please keep in mind, the bear proof cart is only available in the 240L cart size. The manufacturer does not supply this type of cart in anything smaller.

Will the residents own the carts?

The contractor will own and be responsible for the maintenance of the carts. The carts will be assigned to each household and will stay with the property. The carts will be equipped with identification tags to provide GPS location coordinates to the assigned address; therefore, it is important that the carts stay with the assigned property.

What if my carts get damaged, lost or stolen?

If the cart is damaged as a result of manufacturer's defect, please contact the contractor to have it serviced/replaced under the extended warranty. However, if it is deemed your cart is damaged as a result of abuse, you may be responsible for the replacement cost.

If cart is lost or stolen, the contractor will try to recover them using their serial number and electronic identification tag. If the contractor cannot locate your cart, your household will be responsible for the replacement cost. 

Is there an assistance program if I’m not able to take my carts to the curb?

The carts are equipped with large wheels with a stable base, designed for easy maneuverability even in difficult terrain.

An assistance program is currently being considered and will be brought to the RDN Board for final decision.

If approved, the assistance program is intended for residents with temporary or permanent mobility challenges who do not have someone to take their carts to the curb for them and do not have an able-bodied person over 18 years of age living in your residence. The RDN may request documentation from a health care provider to accompany the application.

Can I continue to use my own containers for collection?

No, all RDN residents in single family dwellings are required to use the new automated carts for collection. Only material inside the carts, with the lid closed will be collected.

Can I put my own locks on the carts?

No, please do not put locks on the carts. The carts need to be able to open freely for collection. If you do choose to secure your cart, they must be unlocked for collection. If they are locked, it will not be considered as a missed collection.

All food waste carts will have a gravity lock which is designed to open automatically during collection.

Will garbage bag tags be available to set out extra material?

Extra bag tags will no longer be accepted as part of the automated collection program because the new automated trucks will not able to pick up material that is not inside a standardized cart.

What if I have unused extra bag tags?

Unused tags will be eligible for refund at the RDN head office (6300 Hammond Bay Road, Nanaimo).

What do I do with my old garbage, recycling and/or food waste containers?

Your existing garbage, recycling and/or food waste containers are your property. They can be repurposed for other uses or extra storage, such as rain barrels, use it to save up your depot items such as film plastics, glass, Styrofoam or refundables.

The RDN is currently in the process of coordinating the collection and recycling of unwanted containers for recycling. Please check back in the coming months for more information!

Can I buy carts from the store?

No. The carts may look similar but they are different as the RDN carts will be RFID tagged to your address. The carts that will be delivered to your home were chosen for their technical specifications, in particular, their durability and compatibility with the automated collection trucks. Please note, only the RDN carts will be collected. 


How do I get my carts to the curb if I have a long driveway?

Residents who do not wish to roll their carts down a long or difficult driveway may choose to store them at the end of their driveway within the property limits, ideally inside a shelter, and move them to the edge of the roadway on collection day.

Please keep in mind, the food waste cart is equipped with a gravity lock, which is designed to open automatically during collection. However, these are not bear proof.

Residents will have the choice to upgrade to a more robust, WildSafeBC certified 240L bear-resistant cart at a one-time cost of $230 per cart, plus applicable annual waste processing cost.

For more information, please check out: bear-resistant cart


Why do I need to receive a green cart since I compost in my backyard?

Please keep in mind, you can use your food waste cart for plate scrapings, cheese, eggs, meat and soiled paper, things that you would not be able to compost in back yard. However, if you do not use the food waste cart, you don’t need to put it out on your collection day and just store it instead. The food waste cart will still be delivered to your home because if you move from the property, the next owner will be able to use the cart.


The Cost

How much will this new service cost?

The curbside collection service is fully funded by RDN residents that receive the service, and is not augmented by taxation. The new service will continue to be paid for the curbside utility fee. The estimated annual curbside utility fee will replace the current utility fees.

The utility fee will be based on the garbage cart size, estimated at $175 per household (for default cart set of 240L recycling, 100L food waste and 100L garbage). The annual total value of the curbside collection services contract for the first year, including the purchase of the 10 new automated collection trucks and three wheeled carts for every household is approximately $3.2 million.

What does the curbside utility fee cover?

The fee, determined by the garbage cart size, covers the cost of delivering solid waste collection services, including the collection of the 3 waste streams, as well as the cost of disposal and processing of the material collected in the carts.

Is the cost of the service determined by the weight of material disposed?

No, the utility fee will be determined by the size of the garbage cart, not by the weight.

Do I pay less if I have less garbage?

As an incentive to encourage recycling and composting, you have the option to:

  • choose a smaller garbage for a lower fee; and/or
  • upsize your recycling carts at no extra charge.

The Collection Schedule

Is my collection schedule going to change?

No, your collection schedule will remain the same through the transition from manual to automated collection. The 2020-2021 curbside collection schedule will be sent to all RDN households in December 2019.

Visit rdn.bc.ca/curbside or download the RDN Curbside app (from Google Play and the Apple App Store) to find your schedule and sign up for service alerts.

The Placement of Carts

How should the carts be placed for collection?

The placement of the cart is very important because the automated truck's mechanical arm needs sufficient room to pick up and empty the cart.

General rule of thumb for proper cart placement:

  • Place wheels against the curb without impeding roadway or bike lanes

  • Leave 1m (~3ft) of space around your carts

  • Do not block the sidewalks, roadway or bike lanes

  • Keep carts away from barriers like cars, poles and utility boxes.

What if I have no sidewalk or curb?

For majority of residents, please place carts at the end of your driveway, adjacent to roadway.

RDN staff and Waste Connections will be addressing the problematic areas ahead of the cart deliveries to determine the most suitable areas of cart placements. If it remains an issue or you are unsure of where to place your cart, please contact the RDN at zerowaste@rdn.bc.ca.