Calgary hits 100 million kg of compost a year through green cart pickup

Calgarians are adapting well to the city's composting program, instated roughly a year ago. Black cart tonnage has declined by 40 per cent, the city says.

Most folks get the gist of what goes where — but plastic packaging still sneaks into bins

A city worker uses an automated machine mounted on a truck to pick up a green cart in Calgary. The service began last summer. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Calgarians are adapting well to the city's composting program, instated roughly a year ago.

Since July 2017, Calgary has collected 100 million kilograms of food and yard waste, green cart program manager Laura Hamilton said Monday.

"Our black cart tonnage has decreased over 40 per cent since roll-out, as well, so it's been going great," she told the Calgary Eyeopener.

In fact, she said, the city has collected 30 per cent more compost than it expected.

So far, Calgarians are getting the gist of what goes where in the bins. Contamination is fairly low, at between two and five per cent, she said.

Bags getting into bins

Plastic bags are a main source of contamination, Hamilton said, when they're used to collect compost or dog droppings. Also, she said, people are still disposing of food into the green bin without removing the plastic packaging.

The only plastic bags that can be put into the compost must be certified compostable, Hamilton said, and not simply biodegradable.

Here are a few other items that may be causing confusion in the kitchen:

  • Cardboard egg cartons: these can go in the compost but are more valuable in recycling.
  • Cardboard pizza boxes: if clean, put these in recycling. If covered in cheese or toppings, toss in the compost.
  • Fruit stickers: these are garbage.
  • Coffee cups: the cups are recyclable, not compostable, and the lids are garbage.
  • Tea bags: these can be composted, tags included but staples removed.
  • Grass clippings, weeds, hair from a hairbrush and cat fur: all of these can all go in the compost.
  • Dryer lint, diapers and butcher paper: put these in the garbage.

A full list of accepted items can be found on the city's website.

Several companies in Calgary also offer composting or recycling for items not processed by the city, including diapers and Styrofoam — a service Cochrane has had for almost a decade.

Companies in Calgary are also required to compost food and yard waste.

The resulting compost from everything collected is available to residents to pick up for gardens in the spring.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?