Composting for Businesses and Homes in Winnipeg

Environment   Apr 10, 2017 by Jayme Coleman

What can Winnipeg, who currently doesn’t have a free composting program, do with leftover waste found in homes, grocery stores, and restaurants in order to improve our economy, environment, and community?

    • Winnipeg already has a private run composting company but you have to pay for it. ($25/month for homes)
    • Yard waste ( grass, leaves, trees) pick up is available and composted at local landfills for free in Winnipeg.
    • Different kinds of fruit and vegetables scraps, meat and fish products, grain products, dairy products, egg shells, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, and paper products, etc. can be composted. However, different licences and containers are required for different materials.
    • We've interviewed local restaurants and grocery stores; businesses are willing to take part in a program as long as it is isn't hard or smelly. Data from one store revealed that once produce has a bruise on it, it is placed in 30% off for a day and thrown out. It is estimated they throw out $1500 worth everyday.
    • Manitobans compost 27% of kitchen waste, and 67% of yard waste. Since 4R Winnipeg has been introduced, yard waste numbers have gone up. We believe the numbers of kitchen waste would also increase, once a program would be available.
    • 43% of our school's waste is compostable, but we currently have a teacher collecting only a few sources of compost.
    • The city of Winnipeg was to introduce a program in 2011, but now has been put off to 2018 due to funding, and political will. It's 2017, and we still don't have any news on a biweekly program.

    All over the Canada, there are approximately 94 290 restaurants, 15 442 grocery stores and 13 320 610 houses. What's one thing they all have in common? They make waste, and a lot of. It is estimated that over 1/2 of waste consists of organic material, that could be composted or doesn’t even need to be thrown out. But instead, we're disposing this rich produce and transporting them to one of Canada's 10 000 landfills, where they're buried under layers of soil. At the landfill the organic waste, either buried or trapped in bags, releases harmful greenhouse gases, such as methane (21 times stronger and traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide). This is contributing to GHGs that are already raising the earth's temperature. From there, our sea levels will continue to rise, ice caps will continue to melt, precipitation will increase, and species will have to continue to migrate and adapt. Furthermore, methane acts with the different metals located in the landfill resulting in groundwater pollution. Groundwater is one of our main resources of water, and once it's contaminated we cannot use it anymore. Also, by choosing to use compost fertilizer, instead of chemical, it would reduce the amount of harmful substances that run off from crops and into our water ways. This creates the opportunity for an algae bloom, where algae growth is increased, and decomposer population explodes. These organisms deplete oxygen levels in water, and kill off any other organisms. Ultimately affecting our carbon cycle. Lastly, leaving organic material out of the landfill will increase the landfill's lifespan, and decrease the chances of a new one to be made. Therefore we are saving tax dollars, and land space. Why aren't we increasing our economy, creating locals jobs, and obtaining healthier soil. Which will you chose?

    Some solutions that we are considering are…

    1. A government run composting program free to restaurants, grocery stores, and homes.
    • While it would increase tax dollars, our economy would gain by having access to sell and use the soil.
    • Local jobs would be available.
    • Reduce frequency of garbage collection.
    • Bins with latch would be provided.
    • Pickup service every 1-2 weeks.
    • It would be dropped off at a landfill, where it would be dumped together, turned, and heated.
    • People might not be interested in participating from smell, sorting, etc. so we have to educate on the benefits of composting and make it as easy as possible.
    • Certainly this will increase budget, but it is important to take care of it right now while it is still manageable. Why not pay 20 million right now instead of 40 million later?

    *In Ottawa, there is a free green bin program, where bins are supplied and picked up every week. This compost waste is then taken to an indoor composting facility, where it is transformed into compost. As of right now, soil is being used in Eastern Ontario. This company manages the sales of the soil, and the city receives back 5% of the soil.

    1. Local community compost centre where you get paid to bring in your compost.
    • Self involvement- you can chose if you want participate.
    • You get paid per pound.
    • Creates local jobs.
    • Once collected at a centre, a truck picks it up and takes it to a landfill.
    • Truck would pick up every 1-2 weeks.
    • Soil would still be managed and created by a company.
    • Sort of like a bottle collection (bring bottles in to be recycled and you receive money back).
    • Maybe a Biovator?- A biovator is a long stainless steel bin that holds 500lbs of material and heats itself. All you have to do is load waste in, and turn it on daily for a couple of hours. Seven Oaks School Division, The Forks, and Assiniboine Park has one and reports, "400-500 pounds of organic waste made per week." While we couldn't find the cost of a biovator, a comment of the site said the unit paid for itself in 2 years.
    1. Composting sections added to public garbage bins.
    • Divided garbage bin, one side for garbage, second side for compostable materials, located in public areas.
    • Compost truck would then come and pick it up.
    • Bins would have signs on what to and what not to put in.

    Overall, we believe that a government run composting program would benefit the environment, while pleasing the people. Doing this method would increase budget, but it would be the simplest and what we think, most participated in. It's time we start focusing on making a change, and stop making excuses.

    Do you have a local composting program? Can you tell us about it?

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