BioCycle Magazine

Ontario Regions Invest In Residential Organics Diversion

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Courtesy of Courtesy of BioCycle Magazine

The Regions of Peel and Durham have distributed bins and kitchen containers for source separated organics to 460,000 households to receive weekly curbside collection.

Starting April 2nd, residents in Caledon, Brampton and Mississauga, Ontario - all in the Region of Peel - began setting out kitchen waste and soiled paper at the curbside for weekly collection. Between February and March, more than 285,000 Peel households received 12-gallon (46.5 L) green bins, manufactured by Norseman Plastics, for their organic materials. “This is the largest simultaneous rollout of an organics recycling program in Canada to date,” says Andrew Pollock, director of waste management in the Region of Peel.

Vehicles with two separate compartments are being used to collect the organics bins and Blue Box recyclables at the same time. Households also received kitchen containers. Residents are allowed to use certified compostable bags to line the kitchen containers and green bins. They are available at most grocery and hardware stores in the Region. The comprehensive recycling program is designed to divert 70 percent of waste from disposal by 2016, increasing from the current 45 percent. There are no limits to the amount of Blue Box recyclables and organics that can be set out at the curb. Diapers, animal waste and noncompostable plastic bags cannot be put in the green bins; all other household organics can. Large amounts of yard trimmings, including brush, are collected during the spring and fall seasons only.
The Region of Peel placed a 3-bag limit on the amount of garbage, containers or small bundles of wood that can be put out for weekly collection. Each additional bag, container or small bundle of wood requires a $1 garbage tag attached to it for collection.

The Region is able to process 72,000 metric tons/year of organics at the Peel Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) in Brampton and the Caledon Composting Facility. The IWMF includes a transfer station and MRF. The composting portion of the facility opened last fall (see “Source Separated Collection And Composting Expansion,” January 2006). The plant has a design capacity of 60,000 metric tons/year. It uses six 250-ton Christiaens Group vessels to compost a blend of shredded yard trimmings and food waste. The other 12,000 metric tons of composting capacity is at the Region's Caledon Landfill. That facility, which uses Herhof vessels, has been operating since 1995.


The Region of Durham, located to the east of the Region of Peel, fully rolled out its residential organics curbside collection program in the summer of 2006. A total of 175,000 households have Norseman green bins for kitchen organics and soiled paper. The program was implemented in two phases. Phase I, done in 2003, distributed green bins and kitchen containers to 45,000 households. Phase II, completed last summer, distributed green bins to another 130,000 households. “The reason for the two-phased rollout was to ensure there was an enclosed, state-of-the-art composting facility nearby so that the source separated residential kitchen food waste would be able to be processed and reused,” says Peter Watson of the Region of Durham's Works Department. “Miller Waste designed and built a 25,000 metric tons/year enclosed composting facility in Pickering to service the Durham Region program. In 2006, about 11,000 metric tons of kitchen food waste were composted at the plant, which uses the wide-bed Ebara composting technology.”

Part of the full roll-out last year involved increasing Blue Box collection to weekly service, and limiting households to four bags of trash per collection. “We introduced garbage bag tags for those residents that have excessive amounts of garbage bags over the limit,” explains Watson. “Garbage collection is once every two weeks. As a result, Blue Box recycling increased 30 percent, and the green bin program has a participation rate of 80 to 90 percent. Garbage tonnage has been reduced by 40 percent and it has been sustainable. When residents call to complain that their garbage has an odor, we ask them if they are using the green bins. So far, the situation has been self-correcting. Our program is designed to change the social behavior of everyone in the community when it comes to how households manage their waste.”

The elected Regional Council has been very supportive of the program, he adds, primarily because it wants to make improvements to the environment and reduce the amount of garbage the region sends to Michigan for disposal. “With the amount of garbage going to Michigan being curtailed by 2010, the Region recognized it needed to do something significant and dramatic. We began promoting the rollout of the program in advance, putting ads in the newspaper on a regular basis saying, 'the green bins are coming, the green bins are coming.' We've used local cable TV, three local radio stations, have gone to schools, had public displays at all kinds of events where people gather. We were advising people that the green bins and increased Blue Box collections were coming and explained what they had to do. We are continuing that outreach, only now, we can also congratulate residents on what a good job they are doing so far!”
When the green bins and kitchen containers were distributed to the remaining 130,000 households last year, the Region included a package of biodegradable liner bags for the kitchen containers. Residents were instructed to only use bags that have the “certified compostable” logo. “We issued a tender before we delivered the green bins, asking compostable liner bag vendors to submit bids for including their product as a sample,” says Watson. “The company that offered us the best price had its bags included. We also went to retailers and said residents had to use bags that were certified compostable. We encouraged the retailers to be leaders in their community and promote those liner bags only. We got a great response to that request.”

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