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Regina’s Green Cart Pilot Project showing signs of Success

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The first month results are in on the City of Regina’s green cart pilot project.  Pilot projects participants of the Saskatchewan city of 230,000 have increased the residential diversion rate to 51.7 per cent by using their green carts. These early results show that when fully implemented, green carts will help move Regina closer to our goal of diverting 65 per cent of residential waste from the landfill.

The City launched a one-year residential Food and Yard Waste Pilot in fall 2020 with approximately 2,800 homes across the community to test, evaluate and revise the service before city-wide roll out.  A food and yard waste service will meet current and future waste disposal needs, extend the life of our Landfill and protect the quality of life of future generations.

There is lots of excitement about the new service among pilot participants. In a pre-pilot survey, participating households said:

  • 93% support the Food and Yard Waste Pilot.
  • 84% indicated support for using a third cart for food and yard waste.
  • 82% indicated support for year-round biweekly garbage collection.

Pilot participants are being good sorters. Most of the material collected is on the acceptable items list including food scraps such as meat, bones, dairy and greases, yard waste, soiled paper towel and cardboard. The majority of items we are seeing that don’t belong have been plastic bags and cups.

Every bit of food and yard waste that goes into the green carts makes a difference. It saves landfill space, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the material collected is turned into compost. The City’s pilot processing site at the Landfill uses the GORE Cover System, a proven model currently operating at over 300 sites around the world. The typical composting process is eight weeks.

Throughout the year, the City will continue to monitor the pilot and work with participants to determine the best options for the city-wide Food and Yard Waste Service in 2023.

New B.C. Program aims to keep organic waste from landfill

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The Government of British Columbia recently announced that it is partnering with the federal and local governments on the new Organics Infrastructure Program. The $30-million program will help communities expand their infrastructure, diverting organic waste away from landfills. It will also help the Province meet its CleanBC commitment to help communities achieve 95% organic waste diversion for agricultural, industrial and municipal waste.

Organic waste currently represents 40% of material sent to municipal landfills in B.C. and generates 7.5% of the province’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In total, the projects are expected to reduce nearly 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the next decade. This is like removingmore than 100,000 cars from the roads for a year.

The Organics Infrastructure Program combines $10 million in federal funding from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund, $10 million from the Province, and $10 million in matching funds from local government applicants and their partners. Among the projects are two from the Central Kootenay Regional District — Central landfill composting facility and the Creston landfill composting facility — that, together, provide the region with food-waste processing capacity for the first time. Another recipient is the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality’s worm composting facility. It will divert organic waste from Fort Nelson’s landfill and create high-quality soil.

“This program will help communities, the Province and Canada meet our shared climate action goals,” said George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “It will also help build B.C.’s clean economy by creating green jobs and setting the stage for the economic opportunities that come from the reuse of organic materials.” 

“Investing in better infrastructure for waste management will divert organic waste from municipal landfills and turn it into clean and useful compost,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Initiatives such as this one are key to fighting climate change and helping us reach net-zero emissions by 2050. I congratulate the Province of British Columbia for its leadership in this effort.”

Twelve projects have finalized agreements to date. Additional projects are expected to come on board in the coming months. The initial projects are expected to break ground starting in the spring.

Organics Program Receipiants

The 12 projects in 10 B.C. that are to receive funding are listed below. Additional projects are expected to be approved in the coming months. The dollar values below represent the provincial funding portion only. The money will be distributed over three fiscal years to support project planning, design and construction.

Central Coast

  • Central Coast organics compost diversion initiative (Phase 1): $49,092
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 950
  • This project, led by the Central Coast Regional District, is the first phase of a composting facility that will allow Bella Coola to divert organic waste from its landfill for the first time and enhance services to the Nuxalk Nation.

Central Kootenay

  • Central landfill composting facility: $776,053
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 68,873
  • Creston landfill composting facility: $ 485,745
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 15,890
  • Two complementary projects, led by the Regional District of Central Kootenay, will provide processing capacity for food waste for the first time in the regional district. These projects represent strong partnerships within and outside the regional district as one of the facilities will also service part of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary.

Columbia Shuswap

  • Revelstoke composting facility: $100,000
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 61,465
  • This project, led by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, will allow residents and businesses from the City of Revelstoke and Electoral Area B to divert food waste from the landfill for the first time. Over half the waste entering the Revelstoke landfill is organic. This project will create a usable compost product, prolong the existing landfill life and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Comox Valley

  • Regional organic composting facility additional capacity: $484,815
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 37,489
  • This project, led by theComox Valley Regional District, means the communities of Campbell River, Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland will be able to compost an extra 1,625 tonnes of food waste per year, supporting the regional district’s waste diversion target of 70% by 2022.

East Kootenay

  • There are three projects being funded in the Regional District of East Kootenay that work together to support a regional system. These projects are in the Columbia Valley, Elk Valley and central subregions, providing coverage throughout the region.
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: Columbia Valley site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 25,442
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: central sub-region site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 13,539
  • East Kootenay regionally integrated resource recovery network: Elk Valley site: $333,160
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 42,563

Kootenay Boundary

  • Regional District of Kootenay Boundary organics diversion expansion project: $1,182,006
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 2,873
  • This project will expand the regional district’s organics processing capacity to include food-waste materials from the industrial, commercial and institutional sector throughout the Boundary region and initiate food-waste collection for residents of Greenwood. This expanded facility will primarily process food waste, wood, yard and garden waste from the City of Grand Forks.

Northern Rockies

  • Northern Rockies vermicomposting(worm) facility: $222,546
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 2,273
  • This project will divert organic waste from Fort Nelson’s landfill through a vermicomposting facility; red wiggler worms work with fungi, bacteria and other invertebrates to transform organic matter into “castings,” which can be used in municipal landscaping or residential gardening.

Okanagan-Similkameen

  • Oliver landfill residential food waste compost facility: $400,000
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 4,014
  • This project, led by the regional district, provides the Oliver and Osoyoos landfill service areas with a new composting facility that will process residential food waste, agricultural waste and yard waste. This project is part of a larger regional strategy to manage organic wastes in the regional district. 

Summerland

  • Summerland organics processing facility: $790,500
  • Projected GHG reductions (tCO2e): 24,548
  • The District of Summerland will benefit from the relocated organics processing site as the move will increase capacity, upgrade operational and environmental technology and create high-quality Class A compost streams. The project will divert additional organic waste, preventing it from being landfilled and, therefore, reduce greenhouse gases, while prolonging the existing landfill life.

Saskatoon to launch curbside organics program in 2023

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan City Council recently voted in favour of a moderate phase-in of a curbside organics program and funding of existing waste services. Under the new program, a full-scale residential organics pick-up program will be in place in the City of 250,000 by 2023.

To pay for the organics program, property taxes will be increased incrementally over a four year period as follows:

  • 2020 – 1.0% Property Tax Increase – No change to current waste services.
  • 2021 – 1.0% Property Tax Increase – No change to current waste services.
  • 2022 – 1.0% Property Tax Increase – No change to current waste services.
  • 2023 – 0.93% Property Tax Increase – First year of curbside organics program. New waste service level (bi-weekly collection in summer).

This organics program attempts to balance financial investment with a view towards achieving the City’s waste diversion target. The first 1.53% (approximately $3 million) of the 2020 and 2021 Property Tax impact is solely dedicated to addressing the funding deficit in the Waste Program while the remaining estimated 2.4% will go towards a new curbside organics program. The City will continue to seek alternative funding sources on an annual basis to reduce this impact. Precise timing for the deployment of the curbside organics program in 2023 would be determined by the terms of the successful proposal from the organics RFP process.

In its report to City Council, the Administration stated that the implementation of a city-wide curbside organics program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the tonnes of organics that are landfilled. Reducing the amount of organics entering the landfill will also extend landfill life. The report stated that for each year without an organics program, between $1.1 million to $1.6 million in landfill airspace is consumed with materials that could be diverted.

“We will now focus on developing the implementation plan for the curbside organics program,” says Dan Willems, Acting Chief Strategy & Transformation Officer. “We look forward to providing this new service to residents in 2023 and making strides towards our waste diversion target.” 

Diversion Targets

The City of Saskatoon has a waste diversion target of 70% by 2023. In its report to Council, the City Administration was of the view that the target will not be met without significant resources being directed to diversion programs. The City Administration estimates that the curbside organics program in Saskatoon will result in an additional 13% waste diversion, subject to participation levels from residents. In order to meet the 2023 diversion target, the curbside organics program and other community waste diversion programs would need to be implemented by the end of 2023.

Analysis of the make-up of residential waste in Saskatoon

Saskatoon currently has an optional seasonal organics diversion program in place and has approximately 8,500 residential households participating. The program has seen greater than 10% growth over each of the last few years. This program currently diverts nearly 2,800 tonnes of material from the landfill annually.

The detailed report and all of its attachments can be found here

Edmonton to trial curbside SSO progam

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As reported in the Edmonton Journal, residents in 8,00 homes in Edmonton, Alberta will be participating in a source separated organics (SSO) trial program.

Beginning in late February or early March, the selected households will place their organic waste in a separate bin for pickup.

All the participating homes will receive a green cart. Half will get a 120-litre black cart, and half will get a 240-litre black cart, said Mike Labrecque, city branch manager for waste services.

Recyclables will be picked up weekly, and there will two additional yard waste pickups in the spring and two more in the fall, Lebrecque said.

Just how waste separation might work in apartments and condos is still under discussion. Lebrecque said a timeline isn’t finalized yet, but he said it’s expected that the first phase of single-unit homes will be permanently switched to the compost-waste-recycling pick up in fall 2020, and the second phase is planned for spring 2021. There isn’t a timeline for multi-residential buildings yet.

Eventually, when the whole city is separating things like apple cores and eggshells from other waste, Lebrecque said the city estimates it will need to have the capacity to process 180,000 tonnes of organics annually.

A plan for the facility to process all the organics was also presented to committee recently. Staff studied the possibility of repairing the problems with the building that currently houses the city’s composting system, but ultimately recommended demolishing it and building a new anaerobic digestion facility in its place.

Edmonton is the only municipality in the region that isn’t already doing source-separated organics.

“We took a different approach,” said Lebrecque, referring to the previous program in which Edmontonians dumped their organics and other waste together and sent it to the curb to be separated at a city facility. There was also no volume limit on the amount of waste a household could set out to be collected.

A year ago, a city auditor’s report revealed the city was meeting just a fraction of its goal to divert 90 per cent of its waste from going into a landfill. The auditor looked back at years of data and found annual diversion rates between 35.7 per cent and 49.5 per cent.

Cost of Composting in Montreal Skyrockets

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According to the Montreal Gazette, the City of Montreal’s City could have the most expensive waste composting operations in all of Canada.  Montreal’s 2019-2021 capital spending program shows that spending on the waste organics program is estimated to be $589 million.

In the summer, a whistleblower that alerted the media of the high cost of Montreal’s waste organics program called it the “most expensive composting plants in this universe.”

The latest figure is up by 70 per cent over last year’s estimate of $344 million, though no shovel has yet gone into the ground. The project is also now more than double the initial price tag of $237.5 million that was announced in 2013.

The key changes between the new 2019-2021 capital works program and the 2018-2020 program are as follows:

  • St-Laurent composting plant: cost goes from $65.3 million in previous program to $131.9 million in new program. Delayed from December 2020 to August 2021.
  • Montreal-East biomethanation plant: goes from $72.8 million to $126.4 million in new program. Delayed from December 2020 to August 2021.
  • R.D.P.–Pointe-aux-Trembles composting plant: goes from $46.9 million in previous program to $90.7 million in new program. Delayed from December 2020 to June 2024.
  • LaSalle biomethanation plant: goes from $89.1 million in previous program to $143 million in new program. Delayed from June 2024 to June 2025.
  • Montreal-East pre-treatment plant: goes from $22.2 million to $31.1 million in new program. Delayed from December 2021 to September 2024.

The cost increase is the result of high bids on contracts to design, build, operate and maintain the first three of the five centres, the city executive committee member responsible for the project, Jean-François Parenteau, said on Thursday.

The city received a single bid in two of the calls for tenders, and two bids in the third.  La compagnie de recyclage de papiers MD and SUEZ Canada Waste Services were each the sole bidder on, respectively, a composting plant in Rivière-des-Prairies—Pointe-aux-Trembles borough and a biomethanation plant in the suburb of Montreal-East.

La compagnie de recyclage de papiers MD is a Quebec based company that has been in operation since 1991.  In 2017, it won a contract to design, build, operate and ensure the maintenance of a new recyclable materials sorting centre in the Montreal borough of Lachine.

SUEZ is one of the largest water and waste companies in the world.  In Canada, it  operates and maintains the Edmonton Co-Composting Facility, Edmonton Materials Recovery Facility, and maintains the Edmonton Integrated Processing & Transfer Facility for the City of Edmonton. SUEZ also operates and maintains the Swan Hills Treatment Centre for the Province of Alberta.

The two companies were the only competitors for a composting centre in St-Laurent borough.