Soiled paper, meat and fish bones, pet droppings, food and yard waste, and other organics will be picked up curbside in Red Deer starting next week.
The city’s Green Cart pilot officially kicked off with a demonstration of a truck picking up a green cart at the curb outside the Civic Yards on Monday.
As part of the pilot, 2,000 households will have their organics waste picked up along with the weekly garbage collection.
The $350,000 organics waste pilot is the latest initiative in the city’s efforts to reduce its per capital disposal waste to 500 kg from 800 kg per year by 2023.
Organics make up about 40 per cent of household waste. When composted, the waste can be turned into mulch or used as nutrients in soil rather than end up in the landfill. The organics in the pilot will be reused on local farmland. It will help to keep weeds down, retain moisture and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
Janet Whitesell, City of Red Deer Waste Management superintendent, said meeting the waste reduction target is doable when combined with other city waste diversion programs.
“It is a stretch goal and we will take a lot of work to get to it, but it is realistic,” said Whitesell.
In 2011, nearly 75,000 tonnes of waste from Red Deer was disposed at the Red Deer Waste Management Facility. That translates to 812 kg per capita. By comparison, the Canadian average is 777 kg per capita, and the Alberta average is 1,122 kg per capita, according to city stats.
Green carts could be rolled out to every home in Red Deer in 2017, if the pilot is given the green light.
The success of the program will be determined by the amount of waste diverted from the landfill, customer satisfaction and the contractor’s ability to handle the waste.
Whitesell said the pilot will also help officials determine the cost of running a city-wide program.
“It’s difficult to estimate what the total costs will be,” she said. “The pilot will help us iron out some of those things. Collection contracts will have expire by that time so we will need a new contract. … We have a lot of focus in the Waste Management Master Plan around efficiencies.”
Mayor Tara Veer said environmental sustainability is very import to the city, council and residents.
The city is staggering in new programs outlined in the 2013-adopted Waste Management Master Plan over 10 years.
Some new services will be paired with others to find cost savings and maximize efficiencies.
Averaged over 10 years, the implementation of all proposed programs and services will increase the city’s waste budget by 4.6 per cent.
“This project has been a long time coming,” said Veer. “I am pleased that we are launching it in a pilot form so we can gauge our public’s reaction to it.”
The city will conduct a waste audit on a few random carts at the end of May to ensure the pilot participants are putting the acceptable waste in the green bin.