Composting Program is Coming to Calgary

On May 30, 2016 Council approved the green bin composting program.  The program will begin at the end of 2017 for single-family homes who have blue and black cart service.  Calgarians will pay a monthly charge of $6.50.  You can see a full copy of the report that came to Council HERE.

The City is looking to find ways to reduce the amount of food and yard waste that ends up in our landfills.  Half of the residential waste collected is compostable material.  A pilot was conducted on the green cart program and it was shown to reduce household garbage by 40%.

Many materials that are going into the black bins will be more appropriately placed in green bins.  The green bin program will allow for materials like bones, bread, meats and pet waste to be composting which is currently not effective through backyard composting.

This video provides some great information on Calgary’s landfills:

As mentioned above, Calgarians will receive their composting kits in 2017.  The composting kit consists of:

  • A green bin for curb side pickup (similar to the current blue/black bin)
  • In-home green bin to conveniently collect composting materials
  • Compostable paper bags that can be moved from the in-home bin to the curb side cart.

Green Cart

There were conversations about a possible opt-out for this program at Council.  Council ultimately decided against an opt-out.  If an opt-out had been available the monthly charge for the program would have been significantly higher, or the program would need to be further subsidized through the tax base.  If the program was more heavily subsidized through the tax base, Calgarians would have ended up paying more for the program.

With the anticipation of less waste ending up in black bins, pickup for the black bins will occur once every other week.  This will save The City $10M a year by 2018.  These savings are being transferred to reduce the fees on the green bin program.

Calgary is beginning to face some serious landfill challenges.  Organic materials are taking up valuable space in our landfills and can cause some serious environmental impacts.  By creating this composting program we will be able to free up more space in our landfills.

At the current rate, we would need to explore purchasing more land for additional Waste Management Facilities in the not so distant future.  This could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.  Composting allows us to remove these items from landfill and find better uses for the organic materials.

The Shepard Waste Management Facility will be collecting the composted materials.  The bio-material component of the Shepard facility is operated by a private contractor.  The private contractor will be able to sell the composted material for a profit and will be able to reduce the operating cost that they charge The City.

Many Calgarians expressed concern when the blue bin recycling program was introduced a number of years ago.  Now Calgarians are recycling much more frequently and the blue bin program has become a normal aspect of our lives.  The same will likely be true of the green bin composting program.  This program has the potential to save The City significant money in the long run and provide a more environmentally responsible approach to waste management.

This program is really about The City keeping the bigger picture in mind.  Currently there are roughly 20% of Calgarians that take forward some kind of household composting.  This program will offer a greater composting capacity to that 20% and also find a way to conveniently engage the other 80% of Calgarians that are not currently composting.  Finding a way to limit our environmental impacts and reducing household waste is a good thing for Calgary.

If you would like more information on this program please visit calgary.ca/greencart