First green bins for compost delivered to Calgary homes

Green bins for compostable waste are now being delivered to homes in southwest Calgary but collection won't start until July.

Organic waste collection to begin in July for southwest quadrant only and expand city-wide by October

Debbie Scott was among the first recipients of a green bin in southwest Calgary. (Shannon Scott/CBC)

Green bins for compostable waste are now being delivered to homes in southwest Calgary but collection won't start until July.

The city plans to deliver about 20,000 carts each week and begin collection the week of July 17 in that quadrant only.

A similar pattern will follow in the northwest, northeast and southeast quadrants until some 320,000 green bins are distributed to single-family homes across Calgary by the fall.

Debbie Scott was among the first recipients of a green bin.

"I think it's great," said the southwest resident.

"I hate throwing out all this compost stuff into the landfill so I'm really pleased that it's going to be dealt with better."

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Philippa Wagner, green cart implementation leader, said the city's industrial-scale composting process can turn large volumes of organic waste into earth relatively quickly and can handle types of material that home composters can't.

"From start to finish the process is 60 days," she said. "So it's a very short, very fast process."

The city aims to divert as much organic waste as possible from landfills, which it notes are expensive to operate and maintain.

Finding space for new landfills is also a challenge and the city estimates it would cost $1.5 billion over 25 years to build and operate a replacement landfill if it fills up an existing one.

More than half of the material currently collected in residential black bins is food or yard waste, according to the city.

How compost collection works

The green bins come with a kitchen pail for collecting food scraps and samples of compostable bags to line the pail, as well as samples of larger paper bags for yard waste that doesn't fit into the bin.

They also come with instructions on what can go in the green bins and how the new collection system will work.

Residents are asked to start using the green bins about a week before collection begins in their quadrant of the city.

Collection begins:

  • The week of July 17 in the southwest.
  • The week of Aug. 14 in the northwest.
  • The week of Sept. 4 in the northeast.
  • The week of Oct. 2 in the southeast.

Green bins for compost and blue bins for recycling will be collected weekly on the same day.

Black carts for garbage will be collected once every two weeks (on a different day than green and blue carts) once the new collection system kicks in, down from the weekly collection cycle that exists now.

Coupled with the savings from the reduced garbage collection, the net cost of the green cart program is expected to total $6.50 per participating household per month.

That fee will be charged to residents starting in 2018, after city council voted to waive the fees for 2017 and use money from the city's reserve funds instead.

Starting Nov. 1, 2017, managers of multi-family buildings will also need to provide residents with access to a composting program.

With files from Shannon Scott