Green-cart pilot teaches Calgarians to lessen trash

compostTHUMBConnie Lyndon lives in the southwest community of Cougar Ridge with her young daughter. In March, they became part of the green cart pilot program, which aims to get Calgarians to start composting.

Lyndon said she barely creates garbage anymore since the arrival of the cart, and added that in a city where the climate isn’t conducive to composting, the green bin is a good way to dramatically reduce garbage.

“I was very impressed,” she said. “When I have dinner parties, I do a little bit of explaining and tell my friends to compost. It’s always the question: ‘So what goes in your black bin now?’ and the answer is just little bits and pieces.”

These “little bits and pieces” include certain plastics, diapers and Styrofoam.

Other communities involved in the project are Abbeydale, Southwood and Brentwood.

Lindsay Lofthouse, project manager for the green cart program, said there has been over one million kilograms of food and waste brought out of these four communities in its first six months. She said the carts’ contents have been 99 per cent acceptable, and surveys in the pilot communities have shown 91 per cent support for a citywide program.

With the green cart program, food and garden waste are collected in the compostIMAGEConnie Lyndon said she barely creates any garbage anymore since receiving her green cart.

Photo by Nicolle Amyottehome. This material includes not only greens but also meat, bread, dairy products, dryer lint and pet fur. Presently, the waste is collected and transported to a facility outside of Strathmore where it is composted. This process
turns all of the food and yard waste into a nutrient-rich compost that is used by farmers and also sold to various garden retailers.

Patricia Cameron from Green Calgary said that the program is invaluable to prevent landfills from filling up.

“Food going to waste and yard materials that could be benefiting the land is going to landfill,” Cameron said. “Citizens all have to pay for maintenance and expansion of landfill, and all the nutrients that could be nurturing the soil of our yards and public areas are being buried.”

While organic matter does decompose in landfills, Lofthouse pointed out that 60 per cent of our garbage is organic matter, and that much of it takes decades to do so.

“This material can actually be used to create a valuable product, so why not remove that from our landfills and make something valuable with it?” she said.

Because a facility doesn’t yet exist in Calgary that would accommodate citywide waste, Lofthouse said the soonest the project could go citywide would be 2016, although the issue is being brought to city council next March.

Correction: The story previously mentioned that the food waste collected in the pilot project was transported to a facility outside Strathmore and incinerated.  The food waste is actually composted. We apologize for this error.

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