City of Regina approves curbside composting pilot project

Regina city council will move forward with a $3.5-million composting pilot project if it fits into next year’s budget.

$3.5M price tag up for approval in 2019 budget

Despite introducing a blue bin recycling program five years ago, the City of Regina is not yet nearing its goal to divert 65 per cent of household waste from landfills. A new pilot project might lead to the city-wide introduction of a third bin to collect organic goods, like food and yard waste. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

Regina city council will move forward with a $3.5-million composting pilot project —if it fits into next year's budget.

On Monday night, during a regular council meeting, councillors voted to move forward with a pilot program for compost.

The pilot still has to be considered in the 2019 budget process.

Regina is the only city in Canada with a population over 150,000 people, that doesn't have a composting program.

If approved, a competitive procurement process would start in 2019 to get the equipment needed to construct and run an compost processing facility.

The city's goal is to divert 65 per cent of household waste from the landfill. The city began its blue bin recycling in 2015, but hasn't moved past the 20 per cent mark in its diversion goal.

The city plans to get the pilot going in 2020 to test the model prior to it being rolled out to over 65,000 homes.

City officials would return to council with the final plan in 2021 and city-wide implementation could be done by 2023.

At that time, each resident would get a green bin to dispose of food and yard waste, which would be picked up by the city. Regina's Solid Waste department estimates that would divert enough from trash bins to reduce city garbage pickup to every other week permanently.  

Sources of funding for the overall project, which has an estimated cost of $7.9 million, will be discussed early next year.

If the plan goes forward as is, costs to homeowners would be based on their property taxes. For families with a $350,000 house, the increase in property tax would likely be about $36 a year, according to the Solid Waste department.

The city would also have to explore options on what to do with the organic waste, including looking at indoor composting or using technology to convert the waste into energy.

Without the project, those presenting the recommendations said the city's landfill would have to be decommissioned after 28 years at a cost of about $50 million. Construction of a new landfill would cost $100 million.

If the entire region gets onboard with composting and recycling, and diverts all applicable items from their trash, the landfill could last 82 years.