Plan calls for less waste in landfill

A City of Red Deer plan for reducing solid waste will address the piles of food scraps people are throwing away.

A City of Red Deer plan for reducing solid waste will address the piles of food scraps people are throwing away.

The city will update its Waste Management Master Plan with concrete ways to further decrease the amount of waste going to the landfill and increase waste diversion opportunities.

Council received an update during its Governance and Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Christina Seidel, a consultant hired by the city, said a large bulk of residential food waste ends up in the landfill.

Provincial data from 2005 shows that food waste makes up 21 per cent of residential waste. Paper makes up 22 per cent — the largest percentage.

Grocery stores and restaurants also trash a lot of food waste, about 25 per cent of the waste made by the industrial, institutional and commercial sectors.

Seidel said that paper, cardboard and organic waste are the “big ticket” items that end up in the landfill.

In a perfect world, landfills would only see things like concrete, she said.

“I think there’s great potential from both a business and residential perspective to divert organics from the landfill and to essentially compost organics,” said Coun. Tara Veer.

Veer said organic waste appears to be the one area where the city can make the most significant difference.

The city recently launched a Composting at Home program where the first 300 households that wanted to participated received a free compost bin, plus information on how to do it.

The topic of the city’s five-bag garbage limit also came up during discussions.

Coun. Chris Stephan said his family never fills five bags on any given week.

“My brother has a family of eight and they never go over five bags,” said Stephan. “It seems insane that we have that bag limit.”

The plan will not only look at reducing waste, but also ways to recycle so that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

Janet Whitesell, waste management superintendent for the city, said the city wants to create a strategic 10-year plan.

It’s important to get the committee’s vision on how it wants to increase diversion to the landfill and recycling. The committee, which is made up of city council, will give recommendations.

“Do we want to be progressive or more moderate?” Whitesell said. “To be more progressive means more costs.”

Stakeholders are being consulted, including businesses. It’s expected the plan will be done by the end of the year.

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