Curbside organics recycling drastically reduces waste
A 13-week pilot program introducing curbside organic waste pickup to two neighbourhoods in Airdrie has almost run its course and has yielded some impressive numbers in terms of reducing the amount of garbage being taken to Airdrie’s waste disposal sites.
The pilot was introduced to the Canals and Waterstone neighbourhoods in Airdrie; 351 residents were given a 240-litre green cart for organic waste, a kitchen pail and a supply of compostable bags.
The purpose of the program was to gauge citizen satisfaction, determine participation rates and evaluate effectiveness.
Airdrie’s Waste and Recycling Education Coordinator Paul Lyons presented the findings from the pilot to council on Sept. 16.
The report stated there was an 81 per cent participation rate and a general level of satisfaction among participants.
“One of the complaints or concerns that we heard from people was that the cart was too big,” said Lyons.
The size of the cart was one of very few concerns, however, and the volume of garbage reduction in just a 13-week time period could be credited to the green carts. After 13-weeks of the program, 48,790 kg of organic material was collected, while 41,010 kg of garbage was collected.”
In 2012, over the same time period without organic waste pickup, 75,480 kg of garbage was collected in the Waterstone and Canals neighbourhoods.
Grass was the predominantly recycled item, along with food and yard waste. However, Lyons had a few concerns as some people were not recycling the correct items.
“Our crews found contamination on a number of instances where people were putting plastic bags in the green carts,” said Lyons. “People were also throwing cardboard and some other non-organics in the carts.”
This results in more time spent sorting for crews, though over the 13-week period, no loads had to be rejected, so residents were generally doing a good job in abiding by the program’s guidelines, he said.
Alderman Ron Chapman was satisfied with the findings in Lyons’ report and hopes to one day see the program introduced city-wide.
“I think this is a fantastic program and you look at the responses from residents that 95 per cent of the respondents want to keep this program,” said Chapman.
“The more we can keep items out of our landfills and have them being recycled, it only makes sense and from here on, I would support organic recycling city-wide.”
The program will conclude on Sept. 24 in Waterstone and Sept. 26 in the Canals; upon completion, Lyons and his team will complete a detailed analysis of the program and present their findings to the Environmental Advisory Board in November.