Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer helped officially launch the city’s first major recycling initiative in 27 years on Tuesday.
The green carts being rolled into back lanes this week for organic waste collection represent the biggest change in the city’s recycling program since blue boxes were launched in 1991.
Veer acknowledged that “no change comes without challenge.” But, just as the blue box program eventually won over 90 per cent of Red Deer households who now recycle their papers and plastics, Veer expects that green carts will also catch on in a big way.
Reluctant participants will soon see the good that organic waste collection does for the environment, said the mayor, who’s eager to extend the life of Red Deer’s landfill by reducing the garbage stream by 39 per cent through the use of green carts.
Diverting organic matter from the landfill will also reduce methane gas creation. Red Deer’s director of development services, Kelly Kloss said organics compacted in a landfill without oxygen will break down to produce methane, a greenhouse gas and major contributor to climate change.
The city will, therefore, be collecting food scraps, greasy paper towels, pet litter, grass clippings and tree debris. Area farmer Brian Stickland will then use this matter to create compost through an intensive a four-month process that involves the addition of carbon and nitrogen.
Some of the compost will be spread on his 4,000-acre grain farm west of Penhold. And some of the nutrient-rich material will also be used to make soil healthier for plant growth in city parks.
City manager Craig Curtis initiated the cart launch at the Scott Block by commending Red Deerians for their patience. Organics waste collection begins this week, a month or so after carts were distributed. The new program will add $1.32 a month to the cost of local utility bills.
“Get ready to roll your organic waste out in style with the green cart,” Curtis added, before showing a city-produced green cart video in which sultry voice-over described the chunky plastic carts as “the sleek solution for all your organics.”
Having grown up on a farm, city Coun. Dianne Wyntjes knows the value of composting. She encourages citizens to keep an open mind and try changing their habits. “In the end we’re saving money and saving the Earth.”