Approximately 2,000 households in Dufferin County, Ontario participated in an organic-waste composting pilot project that began in November 1999 and ran for about one year. The households — mainly single-family dwellings from Orangeville, Shelburne and the Village of Grand Valley — were deemed participants if they put organics at the curb at least once a month.
Householders sorted organic waste such as food scraps and yard wastes (plus soiled paper products such as tissues, paper towels and napkins) into green transparent bags. Twelve months was estimated to be enough time to accustom participants to the system and allow organizers to observe the program during all seasons. The usual weekly pick-up day for all other garbage and blue box recyclables was not altered; the green composting bags were simply added.
The average participation rate for the first month was about 57 per cent and this steadily increased. (Organizers attribute this to educational literature, a supportive Compost Hotline and open attitudes.) Close to 500,000 kg of organics was collected over the pilot period. The average amount collected per week was 7,775 kg. (The average per household was 4 kg.) Participation rates were 70 per cent in Grand Valley, 64 per cent in Orangeville and 63 per cent in Shelburne.
“The pilot was such a success,” says Melissa Kovacs, compost projects officer with the County of Dufferin, “that we decided to extend collection service in the pilot areas after the pilot project was completed. We will phase in expansion efforts in 2001 to other areas within the County.”
The Clorox Company of Canada Ltd., a major partner in this initiative, supplied bags as well as promotional support.
“Recognizing the heightened emphasis by Ontario municipalities to address householder indoor organics, the Clorox Company of Canada Ltd. is pleased that the County of Dufferin chose to expand this successful program county-wide. This is an innovative model for other communities to learn from,” says David Douglas, manager of environmental waste programs for Clorox. “Our experience has illustrated that when such programs are designed around the needs of the residents, community support and success is guaranteed. Knowing what the householder wants makes it much easier to predict what the householder will do under their own accord.”
The collection and disposal fees combined amount to approximately $39 per household per year (based on an estimated 4 kg of waste collected per household per week).
The green bags are dropped off at the City of Guelph’s Wet-Dry Recycling Facility for processing. The facility — which handles roughly 44,000 tonnes of wet waste each year — charges $60 per tonne of wet waste, about $7 less than the local waste disposal fees in Dufferin. (See editorial in the December/January 2001 edition and the “Composting Matters” column in the February/March 2000 edition.)
The compost is provided to the community on a “first come, first serve” basis (which is free for Dufferin residents). The nutrient rich compost can be used for gardens and as top dressing on lawns. Three restaurants in the Grand Valley currently participate in the project and make an excellent contribution.
The original supply of free bags has been distributed but is now available for purchase in local stores. A final report is in progress and will be made available at www.solidwastemag.com in the near future.
Connie Vitello is editor of this magazine.