Edmonton

City ready to start collecting kitchen scraps from 8,000 houses in April

Eight thousand homes across Edmonton will soon find out if they’ll be part of a city pilot project to collect separated organic waste.

Households chosen to participate will find out by end of February

The Edmonton Waste Management Centre includes composting, recycling various materials including electronics, a biofuels section, a paper facility and a landfill. The city wants residents to start sorting their own organic waste. (City of Edmonton )

Eight thousand homes across Edmonton will soon find out if they'll be part of a city pilot project to collect separated organic waste.

Each household will get a 120-litre green cart for kitchen waste, which will be picked up weekly in the summer and bi-weekly in the winter. There will be two additional pick ups for yard clippings in the spring and fall.

"We'll be going into a number of different neighbourhoods and testing to fine-tune it, so before we make final decisions, it's based on some really good data about what really works for people," said Coun. Ben Henderson, following a meeting of the city's utility committee on Friday.

"Do we have the size of carts right? How well can we work with organics pickup and yard waste pickup?"

The households should find out by the end of the month if they'll be participating in what the city is calling a "demonstration" project. There will be information sessions held in participating communities, with details about the carts and what can go in them.

While cities such as Calgary and Toronto have had "green bin" programs for years, Edmonton residents have been tossing that waste with the rest of their garbage. It was supposed to have been sorted at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.

But organics end up getting mixed in with plastics, glass and other contaminants. And ongoing roof problems at the city's compost facility mean it is not running at full capacity and has to close in the winter.

Overall, the amount of waste being diverted from the landfill is far below the city's 90 per cent target.
Of 135,000 tonnes sent to the composting facility in 2016, only 63,000 was processed into suitable compost. (City of Edmonton)

The city has also had a culture of allowing citizens to dispose as much as they wanted.

"What does distinguish Edmonton from any other jurisdiction is we never had volume limits. We picked up everything at the curb once a week. And what we learned through our analysis is that half of what's in the black bag is compostable," said Mike Labrecque, the branch manager of waste services.

All homes diverting organics by 2021

The waste services department wants to have all single family homes separating organic waste by the fall of 2020 or spring of 2021. The department would then tackle a similar program for apartment buildings, Labrecque said.

Once all of the houses and apartment buildings in Edmonton start separating three streams of waste — garbage, organics, recycling —there will be about 120,000 tonnes of organic waste to dispose of. A new facility will be required to do that.

The utility committee also heard a recommendation on Friday to demolish the existing aeration hall, which has ongoing roof problems. Administration is recommending a new facility be constructed on the same site.

But the proposal still requires research and council approval before it could get off the ground. It would take three to four years after a final green light from city council before such a facility might open.

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