Ottawa

Next-door neighbour to piggyback on Ottawa's green bin contract

Residents of North Grenville could get a green bin composting program by as early as November if the City of Ottawa gives the nod to allowing its smaller neighbour to operate under Ottawa's organics contract.

North Grenville produces same amount of organic waste in a year as Ottawa does in a week

A pile of organic waste decomposes at the Convertus plant on Hawthorne Road in 2019. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Residents of North Grenville could get a green bin composting program by as early as November if the City of Ottawa gives the nod to allowing its smaller neighbour to operate under Ottawa's organics contract.

The Municipality of North Grenville, which is home to 16,500 including residents of growing Kemptville, has been keenly aware that the Ontario government might eventually ban it from sending its food waste to landfills, as it does now. 

So, North Grenville approached the City of Ottawa this spring to see about using the same contractor and facility the capital has used for the past 10 years.

"Our public works department and council here in North Grenville felt it was quite prudent to get ahead of the game and not be behind the 8-ball, especially as a small municipality, where often we just don't have the same options as a bigger urban centre," said Mayor Nancy Peckford.

More than half of what North Grenville sends to landfills is organics, she added.

Ottawa is midway through a 20-year contract with Convertus, a company formerly called Renewi and, before that, Orgaworld. It pays to send 75,000 tonnes of organic material to that facility, which is capable of breaking down 100,000 tonnes. Convertus then sells the material to farms to boost the nitrogen and phosphorus in their soil.

Ottawa city councillors heard Tuesday that the city sent 82,595 tonnes of food and yard waste to the plant from April 2019 to March 2020, surpassing its contract threshold, in part because it began accepting dog waste into the green bins last year. 

Ottawa councillors see environmental benefits

Members of Ottawa's standing committee on environmental protection, water and waste management agreed Tuesday to negotiate a deal with North Grenville, knowing Ottawa might do the same with other small communities in the future.

"There are environmental savings and environmental reasons why this is a good deal," said Coun. Riley Brockington.

There are small financial savings, too, of $80,000 to $160,000 per year. Taking North Grenville's organics would allow Ottawa to potentially send more leaf and yard waste to its Trail Road facility, where processing is cheaper.

North Grenville Mayor Nancy Peckford says her community is trying to get out ahead of expected provincial legislation that could ban food waste from being sent to landfills. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Nor is Ottawa worried that allowing North Grenville's organics to be counted toward its own tonnage will leave it short of space for its own residents' food scrapings. North Grenville expects to send just 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes per year, about the same that Ottawa sends in a single week.

The deal agreed to Tuesday by Ottawa's environment committee still needs Ottawa city council's approval on Sept. 23. 

North Grenville starts a new waste collection contract Nov. 1, and could start its green bin program then, although Peckford said it might take extra time to prepare residents for the change.

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