Peterborough City Council has approved funding to support the development of a single-source organics pickup program in Peterborough.
The program will collect curbside kitchen waste for residents beginning in fall 2019.
Over the last 10 years, many municipalities in Ontario have put similar programs in place. The question on many local residents minds is, how will this program impact our community?
The hope is that an organics collection program will help us to significantly reduce our waste, and will also help to reduce the negative environmental and human health impacts associated with sending valuable resources to landfill.
On average, Ontarians produce more than 850 kilograms of waste each year — one of the highest per capita rates in the world. While we have implemented comprehensive recycling programs in many communities, only about 25 per cent of our waste is recycled.
If this behaviour continues, the Bensfort Road landfill site will be full within 20 years.
In other communities across the province, organics collection programs have been very successful, adding years to the lifespan of existing landfills. This is because a significant amount of the waste we produce is actually food waste.
Tara Stephen, Manager of Waste Management with the County of Peterborough, says that 50 per cent of residential garbage bags are filled with organics. This includes fruit and vegetable peelings, meats and bones, wasted food, pet waste, and leaf/yard waste.
The County of Peterborough regularly completes waste audits to provide local food waste data. Waste audits capture waste generation habits by analyzing contents of garbage and recycling. These audits are a snapshot in time and provide an overview of current waste habits in the area.
So what does 50 per cent food waste add up to?
It is between one and three pounds per garbage bag during an average week. In Canada, the cost of that wasted food is $31 billion per year!
When we send food and organic wastes to the landfill, we also lose valuable organic materials that can be turned into rich compost and add critical nutrients to our soil base.
This is all part of creating a more circular economy, where waste can be recovered, reused, and reintegrated, rather than an economy in which goods are purchased, used, and then disposed of.
Reducing the amount of food waste and organic materials going to landfill is also a critical step toward reducing the greenhouse gas emissions created by our waste sector.
According to the Province’s Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, our provincial waste sector was responsible for 9.4 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year, the majority of which came from organic waste. According to the strategy, this is because “when good and organic materials are landfilled, they break down and emit methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times more harmful to our climate than carbon dioxide.”
To put this in a global perspective, if food waste were a country, it would be the world’s third largest emitter — surpassed only by China and the United States. That is a staggering statistic.
Fortunately, the City of Peterborough is moving towards the responsible choice of recovering organic waste through curbside collection. In the County of Peterborough, the Waste Management Plan is currently under review for 2018, and a single-source organics collection program is being considered there too.
A new collaborative including Peterborough Public Health, the County of Peterborough, Nourish, The City of Peterborough, GreenUP, and Sustainable Peterborough has also been developing a campaign to educate the local population with the goal of preventing wasted food.
This community-driven initiative will feature an event during Local Food Month in September, which will include a panel of experts sharing residential tips and trick for preventing food waste. There will be opportunities leading up to Local Food Month to participate in and evaluate your own waste habits at home. Details will be released within the upcoming months.
In the meantime, GreenUP is rolling out a new at-home compost installation program in partnership with the City of Peterborough. The “Kitchen to Compost: Too good to waste” program will begin in May 2018.
Homeowners in the City of Peterborough can have a home compost system delivered and installed. along with instructions for its use — all for only $20, which is less than the regular cost of a composter.
For more information about the Kitchen to Compost program, or the food waste initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 705-745-3238 ext 216.