Approximately 1,800 homes in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon are participating in the Peel Organics Demonstration Project. Through this project, the Region is investigating the effectiveness of separating organic material from waste, the viability of various organic collection containers, and the efficiency of waste collection vehicles. Information gathered from the project will impact the development and implementation of a region-wide organics collection program slated to commence in 2005.
The closure of the Britannia Sanitary Landfill Site in Mississauga in June has resulted in an increased emphasis on regional initiatives to encourage the use of recycling services and waste diversion from landfill.
“By supplementing garbage collection with organics collection, recovery rates for organic material will increase, bringing us closer to our goal of diverting 70 per cent of waste from landfill,” says Andrew Pollock, Peel Region’s director of waste management.
In 2001, 43 per cent of residential waste (172,000 tonnes) has been successfully diverted from disposal, including organic material.
While 10,400 households have been participating in biweekly organics collection in Caledon since 1994, this is the first time organic material is being collected on a weekly basis in all three municipalities. Residents participating in the demonstration program are asked to separate organic material from waste by placing it in curbside collection containers provided by the region. Organic materials include dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and kitchen waste (such as meat, bones, plate scrapings and used/wet paper products).
Participants in Mississauga and Brampton were provided with a package containing a small kitchen organics bin manufactured by SSI Schaefer, curbside collection containers manufactured by Busch Systems and Otto Industries, collection calendar, instructional brochure and a pre-program survey. Some selected participants also received either biodegradable plastic bags or regular plastic bags in their packages for use in their kitchen organics bins.
For nine months, participants in Brampton and Mississauga receive weekly organics collection in addition to weekly garbage and recycling collection. For the six-month pilot in Caledon, biweekly organic collection has been increased to weekly collection, while garbage collection takes place every other week. Weekly collection of disposable diapers and incontinence products in special bags is also available upon request.
Once collected, organic material is transported to the Peel Organics Composting Facility in Caledon, where it is inspected for contaminants and loaded into a shredder. The shredder breaks down the material into small pieces and tears open any bags. The material is placed in an in-vessel composting unit where it is processed into nutrient rich compost. Last year the site processed more than 3,000 tonnes of organic waste.
During the first 12 weeks of the program, more than 35 per cent of households in the three study areas participated. Mr. Pollock believes participation rates will continue to rise as awareness continues to grow.
All participants will be invited to comment on the feasibility and effectiveness of the program in a survey that will be mailed to participants in October.
Other regional initiatives include: a three-bag standard waste collection program expected to reduce garbage by five per cent (1,200 tonnes) each year in the first two years; the expansion of the KMS Peel Energy-from-Waste plant to process an additional 36,000 tonnes of waste; and, the development of a network of community recycling centres in three years.
Deborah Everest-Hill is a writer for the communications services department of the Region of Peel, Ontario.