The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the August 29, 2015, edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.
Curbside composting now
On Sept. 9, the city is hosting an organics diversion strategy symposium to talk to residents and find out how Winnipeg should divert organic materials from the landfill. Yet the city already conducted a Speak Up on Garbage Expo in 2010 followed by a six-month public campaign, then in 2011 commissioned a study. In fact, dollars to run a pilot residential compost pickup program were even allocated in the 2014 budget. Waiting for a new organics strategy to be delivered to council in summer 2016, which is the date now being proposed by the city, will delay organics pickup for too long and makes no sense.
We know organics diversion programs are necessary and can divert approximately 40 per cent of Winnipeg’s residential waste stream. The province is gearing up for the implementation of a ban on organics in landfills by 2020, and the city will ultimately be required to take action on organic waste. Many Winnipeg residents have already spoken up for organics curbside pickup, and we have the studies and successful existing program models. Progressive cities such as Toronto, Calgary, Hamilton, Vancouver, Halifax, Victoria and even Brandon already run programs. It’s time to join them.
Green Action Centre
Is there an estimate of how much compostable material is currently being diverted by backyard composting? How much can we expect that a curb-side pickup program will improve public participation in diverting their compostables? It seems wasteful to me to run another team of trucks throughout the city to collect materials that residents could compost in their own back yards, for use in their own gardens and flowerbeds. Perhaps getting apartments and condo equipped with communal compost bins would be a better focus, along with encouragement to handle the compost problem at the local level.
Thanks so much for your comment, Steve. The most recent stats on organics diversion rates in Canada are from a study in 2011. The numbers reveal that only 27% of Manitobans are composting their kitchen waste. There are a couple of our municipalities that have a curbside pick up program, but Winnipeg is not included. It then becomes hard to get an accurate picture of who is composting in their backyard. Nonetheless, the study does reveal some interesting information about the state of organics diversion in Canada. Check it out here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/16-002-x/2013001/article/11848-eng.htm
Here at Green Action Centre, we agree with you that backyard composting is a preferred method. Less trucks, less GHG, more uses for the end-product and better connection to the process by the people. However, for some this method is not possible, such as those in apartments or condos as you mentioned. We definitely agree that a pick-up program for this demographic is priority. An enforcement system where an organics landfill ban would require municipalities to force residents to separate their organics possibly with a fine program has been used in a variety of other communities to increase participation rates in curbside programs. As for any new program, education is key. As Manitoba moves towards this type of ban, we hope to see Winnipeg get on board with an organics diversion program that works for everyone.
This is a great idea! I would love to help in implementing this. Please let me know if there is something I can do to help.