This week, City Council approved a new agreement with Orgaworld Canada that will make it easy for residents to recycle organic waste, keeping it out of landfills.
The approved report recommends changes to the City’s green bin program that will allow residents to dispose of dog waste and use thin plastic bags (including non-biodegradable bags) as liners for their weekly green bin pickups starting in mid-2019, eliminating the need for special liner bags and reducing odour and pest concerns. This is good news for both dog owners and residents who may find their green bins regularly in need of cleaning from mold/insects.
The program would cost an estimated $626,000 each year (or approximately $0.15/household/month). By comparison, a local retailer sells 80 litre green bin liners in a package of 10 for $6.43, and small food waste bags in a package of 10 for $5.83.
To address potential odour issues from accepting plastic bags, Orgaworld would invest $3.9 million to upgrade the plant for enhanced service and to improve odour control, and submit a mitigation plan to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the City. The City would also hire a third-party independent consultant to review the plan.
The Green Bin Program has diverted more than 533,000 tonnes of organic waste since 2010, and put it to use as compost and other beneficial products. Under the revised contract, Orgaworld would continue to provide 2,000 tonnes of AA compost each year. The product derived from the organic waste could also be used in fertilizers and soil enhancers and Orgaworld will be starting to look at how to use the plastic bags as fuel for kilns.
I would like to emphasize that although the proposed changes will allow residents to use plastic bags to wrap food waste to place in their green bin, the green bin is still not an encouraged alternative to dispose of all plastic bag waste.
This is a great step forward to help motivate residents to continue using their green bin to its fullest capacity without the “yuck” factor and divert organic waste from our landfills. As an aside, the Province is proposing to start banning organics in landfills in 2022.
I would like to thank residents for providing their input to me since last week regarding this item. Staff have provided a useful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet to help address any additional concerns.
Some residents also inquired as to whether this means the City would be investigating other items to be included such as biodegradable single-use coffee pods or Styrofoam. I have been advised that these products provide a different set of challenges for waste reduction. The province mandates the packaging that has to be recycled, and has a program under which producers of that packaging pay 50% of the cost of managing that waste. Styrofoam, for example, is not one of the mandated materials, so there is no funding to help add it to the program. Additionally, for Styrofoam to be recycled, it must be not be contaminated. As the City collects blue box items in one truck, any Styrofoam collected would be contaminated with food waste, broken glass, and have other items crushed into it; making it unmarketable.