Our Green Bin program isn't like Toronto's

The Toronto Star had a big article yesterday on the huge mess Toronto’s green bin program is in (This is besides the garbage strike) http://www.thestar.com/article/660864 for details.

I should tell you that Toronto’s green bin problems are common knowledge in the waste biz. Many private contractors who compost green waste won’t take their garbage while they want Waterloo Region’s compost.

The main problem is that Toronto lets people put their green compost in plastic bags, mostly the infamous plastic shopping bag. Toronto says they allowed plastic bags so more people would compost. That makes no sense at all if you can’t compost the result!  We insist that people use paper compostable bags –kraft bags, similiar to those used to pick up leaf waste. We also do not accept disposable diapers. The problem is the plastic in the waste stream. Garbage rots quickly and the plastic contaminates the compost so it is unusable.

This is one reason why we are rolling out our program slowly. So when we do it, it will work!

By the way, for regular household garbage, you can get garbage bags made of cornstarch and can use the kraft bags also. A report on plastic shopping bag education is coming back to Regional council in the fall.

We recently had the Record note that our compost is going to Thorold. We have investigated building our own composting facility but it would cost 30 to 40 milion dollars and there would still be smell problems. I recently visited a composting facility in Whistler, but it was noted by the manager, that this facility is kilometers away from residents.

We were going to send the compost to a facility just outside Waterloo Region but it didn’t work out so now we are into another tender with hopes the new facility won’t be too far away.

Landfill and waste is a serious problem because no matter what you do, sometimes it smells. And no one wants one near them. But what is the alternative? Many communities are going to incineration, but that also has problems.

I am asking staff about one problem noted in the Star article. Household waste compost can be very salty due to the huge amount of salt we have in our diet.  Supposedly if it is properly cured there isn’t a problem. Will keep you posted.

All about the green program and what can go in it, is listed here.

http://www.region.waterloo.on.ca/web/region.nsf/97dfc347666efede85256e590071a3d4/f853783700a202418525726e007445ba!OpenDocument

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2 responses to “Our Green Bin program isn't like Toronto's

  1. Dear Ms. Mitchell,
    Your blog reached me here in North Dakota via an automated Google Alert.

    I found your comments mostly on target. However, compost operations do not HAVE to be a nuisance to your next door neighbor! Our company was involved in the design in supply of equipment for the INLAND EMPIRE REGIONAL COMPOST FACILITY in Rancho Cucamonga, California (~20 mi east of Los Angeles). This is an in-vessel 150,000 t/yr facility that is composting wastewater biosolids and green waste. The facility sits in an industrial park with VERY close neighbors…in the most closely regulated/stringent environmental district (South Coastal Air Quality) in the world.

    There are NO offsite odors. I would have no problem building my personal residence next to that facility… Yes, trouble-free, odor-free facilities are expensive but they are not as expensive as a failed, odor-belching plant that is constantly a source of nuisance odors until litigation causes it to be moved.

    Odor-free facilities take planning and skillful thought. They do not happen overnight nor through the application of the popular, semi-permeable membranes as the Gore people would have us think.

    Yes, we are a supplier and system integrator of compost equipment and odor-control biofilters. I am a vendor that would mind living next to a well-designed, odor-free (off-site) composting facility…there are such facilities. Composting doesn’t have to be offensive.

    Call me if you would wish to chat about the concept.

    Cal Tininenko
    BacTee Systems
    Grand Forks, ND
    701-775-8775 x 237

    • Yeah! My first real decent reply to a post. Thanks.
      I’ve passed your comments onto our staff who are looking into composting alternatives.

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