What You Should Know About Curbside Compost Collection
If you didn’t already know, the waste that we are generating is increasing and at the same time, landfill space is becoming more and more scarce, but we can all do our part and help reduce what we toss in the garbage.
According to Toronto.ca, almost 50% (by weight) of household waste is considered organic material which can instead be collected and turned into compost. According to Statistics Canada, every year the province of Ontario generates over 12 million tonnes of garbage with over 3/4 of it sent to disposal and almost 4 million tonnes of this waste is considered organic.
The goal of organic waste management is to reduce waste and preserve landfill space, by recycling organic waste and turning into compost to help enrich and improve soil quality and use it in parks, lawns and gardens.
In Toronto, there is a Green Bin Program that collects organic waste for the purpose of turning it into compost. There are currently about 460,000 single-family households that are being serviced, not including apartments, condos, schools, and other city-owned buildings. Other cities such as San Francisco also have curbside compost collection in an effort to reduce waste.
Green bins are distributed to each household, designed to be animal-resistant, and for automated collection. Organic material is collected each week in these green bins on a regular collection day, depending on the area.
Material must be placed at the curb by 7:00am on collection day, or after 7:00pm the night before and not any earlier. If the green bin is full, you can place excess organic material in a clear bag placed next to your green bin at the curb.
For those of you in Toronto or other cities with curbside compost collection, hopefully this article is helpful for you in knowing more about the compost collection and process.
What can you throw away as organic waste?
Organic materials such as meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits, corn cobs and husks, dairy products, fish products, pasta, bread, cake, cereals, flour, rice, eggs and shells, coffee filters and coffee grounds, tea bags, cookies, candy, diapers, sanitary products, animal waste, cat litter, animal bedding, house plants, including soil, food packaging, paper (soiled), popcorn, sugar bags, napkins, tissues, paper towels (not soiled with cleaning products).
What can you not dispose of as organic waste?
Packaging, such as plastic, outer packaging, foil bags, wrap, foam polystyrene meat trays, plastic food containers, wine corks, pop cans, glass jars, hot drink cups, sleeves, lids, baby wipes, dryer sheets, gum, make-up pads, wax, dental floss, cotton tipped swabs, pet fur, hair, feathers, fireplace and BBQ ashes, wood pieces, cigarette butts, vacuum bags and contents, bandages, gauze, yard waste, and grass clippings.
Helpful tips you should know
For curbside collection in Toronto, line your kitchen container or Green Bin with a plastic bag or kraft paper bag. It’s important to only line one, not both. For this step only, it is ok to use a plastic bag to hold your organic waste. Regular grocery bags are fine. There is no need to buy special types of bags. However, when disposing of food, make sure to take food items out of plastic bags, wraps, containers or jars. Do not use biodegradable bags, and do not use twist ties when tying plastic bags. The key is to avoid plastic waste as much as possible, as they will contaminate the system. In the processing, all bags are opened, removed and sent to landfill disposal.
If you’re not sure how to dispose of items, try this website out.
Where does it go after it gets collected?
The organic waste is collected and taken straight to an organics processing facility which mixes the materials with water and first removes any plastic bags. Following this step is a process, which breaks down the waste in an oxygen-less container. This creates conditions for anaerobic bacteria to help break down the waste more. The final product is an organic solid material called digestate. From here it is sent to secondary processing facilities to be broken down and turned into compost, which is beneficial for soil, to be used in city parks, lawns and gardens instead of going to landfills.
Learn more about the basic composting process here.
You can learn more on composting at home, click here.
You can also check out this Composting Toolkit here.