Manitoba

Compost pickup to start in January, thanks to a Winnipeg non-profit group

A non-governmental organization in Winnipeg is hoping to fill what it sees as a gap in city services — the lack of a residential compost pickup service.

Green Action Centre decides to step in where city has stalled

Starting in January, the non-profit Green Action Centre — through its social enterprise, Compost Winnipeg — will offer residents a weekly green waste pickup service for $25 per month. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

A non-governmental organization in Winnipeg is hoping to fill what it sees as a gap in city services — the lack of a residential compost pickup service.

Starting in January, the non-profit Green Action Centre —  through its social enterprise, Compost Winnipeg — will be offering residents a weekly green waste pickup service for $25 a month. The program builds on the group's existing commercial pickup program that has been running for months.

"We will give you this five-gallon bucket and every week we'll come to your door, we'll take the bucket away and we'll leave you a clean one," said Compost Winnipeg's project manager, Kelly Kuryk.

Bins require a $10 deposit.

The group said it can help reduce landfill waste by about 40 per cent.

Offering residential compost pickup is in response to a lack of action by the city, said Kuryk.

"We are all anxiously awaiting — well, at least some of us are anxiously waiting — for the city to move forward on a green bin system like so many cities already have in Canada," she said.

Some of the cities that offer compost pickup, include Ottawa, Toronto and Brandon.

Compost Winnipeg's project manager, Kelly Kuryk, sits beside a compost bucket that will be used in a new household green waste collection program that will be available in numerous neighbourhoods in January. (Pat Kaniuga/CBC)

Since 2011, the City of Winnipeg has been seriously looking at expanding curbside pickup to include organic waste like kitchen scraps, bones, dairy and meat.

Still, it may take until 2020 before an organic waste collection program is rolled out in Winnipeg, said Coun. Brian Mayes (St.Vital), chair of the city's water and waste committee. 

"I am the kind of person who should be composting," said Mayes. "I would be willing to pay something to come and have that picked up."

Compost Winnipeg is "even easier than taking out your garbage or recycling," said Kuryk.

Workers can pick up bins either at a resident's doorstep or where the normal garbage pickup site is— such as in a back lane. 

Mayes, who had not yet heard of Compost Winnipeg's residential program when CBC News spoke with him, said he could not say immediately whether or not he supports the new door-to-door service.

There are labour issues to consider with regards to city workers who do garbage collection, he said, as well as parking implications.

"But certainly I've been supportive of their work on the commercial side…. It's been a big help with St. Vital Centre," said Mayes.

This summer, Mayes gave Compost Winnipeg $1,000 out of his discretionary fund to help the group buy a used truck, after learning of their efforts to help schools and businesses compost.

Green considerations

Kuryk said one of Compost Winnipeg's challenges with their new not-for-profit pickup program has been keeping costs down for consumers. 

"It's a little bit tricky for us because we have to keep the price point low enough so it's affordable for people," she said.

Fees around green waste pickup have also been a major stumbling block for the city.

City councillors Russ Wyatt and Ross Eadie raised concerns earlier this year, saying green bin pickup could cost households an extra $55 to $100 a year.

Mayes said residents who already compost on their properties have told him they are reluctant to pay for a service they would not use.

Public consultations on municipal compost pickup in Winnipeg will likely begin in 2017 and Mayes said he will consult with Compost Winnipeg to find out more about its program.

Compost Winnipeg's service is starting in 18 Winnipeg neighbourhoods in January: Armstrong Point, Broadway-Assiniboine, Downtown, Earl Grey, Exchange District, Linden Woods, Minto, Osborne Village, Point Douglas, River Heights, River-Osborne, Riverview, Roslyn, Lord, Roberts, St. Matthews, Sargent Park, West Broadway and Wolseley.

Kuryk said if residents in other parts of the city want to take part, they just need to see interest from 10-15 other homes nearby.

With files from Information Radio

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