Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. community undertakes mandatory composting campaign

There's a "huge buzz" in Cape St. George as it launches curbside and backyard composting.

800 residents of Cape St. George have been offered free backyard composters, weekly pickup

As of next week, all organic waste in Cape St. George is destined to be compost. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

As of next week, all 800-odd citizens of Cape St. George will be composting household organic waste, either in their backyards or via a curbside pickup.

The town is making the changes as a cost-saving effort ahead of July's jump in tipping fees to the local dump, and making it mandatory in the hopes that ensures success.

Mayor Peter Fenwick says so far people seem to be on board.

What we're looking at is trying to divert as much as we can at the actual household level.- Cape St. George Mayor Peter Fenwick

"There's a huge buzz in the community," said Fenwick, who is also a member of the Bay St. George Waste Management Committee.

Fenwick said when the committee learned of the latest hike in tipping fees — up to $164 per tonne, as compared to $49 in 2014 — they banded together on a backyard composting initiative, deciding the cheapest way to combat increased costs was to divert waste at the source.

One-third of household garbage in the province is organic matter.

"After we looked at it, it was a no-brainer. Encouraging backyard composting is by far the best thing you can do in terms of waste management strategy," Fenwick said.

The committee ordered 400 backyard composters to give away free of charge, 200 of them designated for Cape St. George residents.

Cape St. George's bins arrived on June 7, and eight days later, 115 were spoken for. Fenwick added that 50 of the other composters have also been distributed amongst the other communities.

115 of Cape St. George's allotted 200 compost bins were snapped up by residents within eight days. (Peter Fenwick)

Get your salt beef buckets

For people who don't, or can't, backyard compost, Fenwick is advising residents to fill a container such as a salt beef bucket with their organic waste and set it out by the side of the road for the curbside pickup, which starts Tuesday. He said if people try to opt out, their garbage simply won't be collected at all.

Cape St. George owns its own garbage truck, which is staffed municipally, so Fenwick said making the changes mandatory was easier than if they had to negotiate with a waste collection contractor.

Fenwick said education is a huge component towards composting success, and everyone who receives a free compost bin is also briefed on how it works, both by a town staffer and with an instructional booklet.

Every resident who receives a composter must also undergo an education session as to what goes in, and what stays out, of the bin. (Lindsay Bird/CBC)

"One of the major problems we've had in the past is people have the composter, but they didn't know how to use it," he said.

"What we're looking at is trying to divert as much as we can at the actual household level."

Fenwick said by reducing the overall amount of waste sent to the landfill, the town could see savings between $10,000 and $20,000 annually, which makes covering the initial $22 cost of each composter worth it.

When the curbside collection begins, Cape St. George will be one of the few places in the province to do so.

Neither the Western, Central nor Eastern Waste Management Boards offer the service. Plans to do so in St. John's were put on hold in 2017.

Several municipalities and communities, such as Happy Valley-Goose Bay, do offer community compost services where people can bring their organic waste to a central location.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from the Corner Brook Morning Show