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The lack of profit has been attributed to weak global recycling markets and increased contamination in recycling, which costs Cosmo money to sort through or take to the landfill.
The city and Cosmo are proposing an amendment to the contract which, if approved by council, would pay Cosmo $61.50 per tonne starting on Oct. 1, increasing by 3.5 per cent each year.
That works out to between $20,000 and $22,000 this year, and between $80,000 and $95,000 in subsequent years. The contract expires in 2023, but includes a six-year extension option.
The contract also encompasses the city’s multi-unit residential recycling program.
Angela Gardiner, Saskatoon’s general manager of utilities and environment, said the proposed rates are below Cosmo’s current $85 rate, as well as current market rates for single-stream recycling.
Ken Homenick said the operating deficit for the city programs is having a “significant impact” on Cosmo, as surpluses are used to fund programs for people with disabilities.
Homenick said contamination is a growing problem, with people putting shopping carts, appliances, televisions, hazardous materials and bags of garbage into recycling bins.
Cosmo makes several trips to the landfill each week, and landfill costs are upwards of $100,000 annually, he said.
Contaminated recycling is part of the reason Saskatoon is falling short of its waste diversion targets. Last year, 20 per cent of the material from the four depots — Lawson Heights, University Heights, Lakewood and Meadowgreen — was contaminated.
Council’s governance and priorities committee unanimously endorsed the proposal. It’s expected to be on the agenda at city council’s final meeting before the municipal election next week.
The committee also approved a motion from Coun. Darren Hill to have city hall look at using security cameras to mitigate illegal dumping and contamination of recycling at the four depots.