“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost” is the new 3 R’s of recycling some of us learned in our early years of school. In an effort to achieve city council’s goal of keeping 70% of materials of out of city landfills by 2025, the City of Calgary has launched the Green Cart program city-wide. Starting earlier this month and completing by the end of August 2017, single-family homes across the city will receive their new, full-sized Green Cart. Residents will receive everything they need including: Green Cart, kitchen pail, starter supply of compostable and paper yard waste bags, as well as instruction guide and collection schedule.
Rolling out this program means an estimated 85 million kilograms of food and yard waste will be kept out of landfills every year. Compare that with the 40 million tons of trash the city has thrown in landfills over the past 50 years, residents will be helping to create nutrient rich compost, protect our land, air and water resources, and keep material out of landfills to avoid future hefty costs.
With the price tag of opening and operating a new landfill estimated at $1.5 billion over the next 25 years, the $6.50 monthly charge seen on your future ENMAX bill is a small price to pay. In fact, this charge won’t even take effect until the beginning of 2018. Not only has the city started this service free-of-charge, but extensive thought has been put into ensuring Calgarians are paying the lowest amount for this service. As black cart garbage collection is supported by property taxes, savings achieved by changing waste collection for these bins from once a week, to once every two weeks has already been allocated to reducing Green Cart collection fees. Also, with the majority of the finished compost being sold to companies such as landscape soil blenders and compost baggers, proceeds from sale help reduce the compressing cost and lower Green Cart program fees.
Why now? With the success of the City of Calgary’s Green Cart pilot program, weekly compost collection has proven to help residents cut down their garbage waste, surprising residents by finding out more than half of what they originally put in trash bins was food and yard waste.
Each day residents make decisions on what to do with what is not needed; garbage should only be things that cannot be reused, recycled, or composted. These materials have been deemed “too good to waste”. As some of these materials may surprise you, the standard plastic and non-biodegradable materials are not to be disposed in these bins. This includes diapers, wipes or sanitary products, food and beverage packaging, and plastic plates and cutlery. Residents are also being reminded to only use certified compostable bags.
For some of us, the task of changing our daily behavior of mindlessly tossing things into the trash bin may seem inconvenient, but with black cart pick up only once every two weeks, a few simple changes can go a long way. Try and keep your kitchen pale close to your garbage bin. During any meals remember your food prep waste, plate scrapings, and old leftovers are all compostable materials. And when in doubt about what you can and can’t put in the bin, refer to the print-out below.