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Feb 17

#WasteWednesday February 17, 2021

Posted on February 17, 2021 at 10:20 AM by Tracy Wasylow

Today we’re talking compost, the dos and don’ts and the honest truth. 

This is a very informative video on composting myths and I think it’s very important to share this information with M.D. residents. 

Canada’s largest composter, the City of Toronto, suggests that anything that behaves like a plastic – compostable plastic bags you might find at large grocery stores, compostable straws and cutlery, and even compostable coffee pods should be put into the waste stream to be landfilled. Yes, you heard that right. Canada’s largest city with the largest composter in the country cannot properly compost these materials. 

So now what? What can M.D. of Bonnyville residents learn from this? 

Let’s look at what we do locally. We have bright orange 6-yard bins at various transfer stations around the M.D. for grass clippings, leaves, and the paper bags you might be collecting your yard waste in. Clean compost is collected and delivered to the Ardmore Landfill site where it is piled and will eventually be used for landfill reclamation. The compost pile sits in one place and is turned once or twice per year. This is what is known as a passive composting process. 

This is very different from an industrial composting process, also called anaerobic digestion, used by the cities of Edmonton and Toronto. An industrial composter can essentially accept all types of organics for composting because the material is heated to high temperatures, aerated, watered, turned and mixed on a regular basis allowing the materials to break down at a much faster rate. 

With the M.D. having a passive composting process, it imperative that we only collect items like grass clippings, leaves, and paper bags, as these materials will compost easily. 

Food scraps attract wildlife such as birds, skunks, and coyotes while tree branches will not decay when they are buried in a pile with no oxygen. When these and other items such as lumber, household waste, and shingles are placed in our compost bins, unfortunately the entire bin is tipped into the truck and sent to the landfill with the rest of the bagged waste stream. 

So, please don’t be fooled by the catchy packaging saying an item is compostable. Just because it is compostable, does not mean it will break down passively or even be composted in an industrial composting process as evidenced by the City of Toronto.