City beats trash goal
Tweaks ahead for trash program, says city
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012 06:00 am
St. Albert is looking to tweak its trash and recycling programs this year now that it’s blown past its 2020 goals for waste reduction.
City waste programs co-ordinator Christian Benson briefed council this week on St. Albert’s first year of curbside compost and recycling collection. The city brought in blue-bag recycling in 2009 and started a cart-based composting program in June 2011.
The city sent about 34 per cent less trash to the landfill during the last 12 months than it did in the 12 before that, Benson said, largely as a result of the curbside composting program. That, plus a slight uptick in recycling, has boosted the city’s waste diversion rate to a record 65.9 per cent. The target the city set out in St. Albert’s environmental master plan for 2020 was 65 per cent.
Strathcona County, by comparison, diverted 59 per cent of its trash in 2011, while Edmonton managed 53.
The city also zipped past its per-capita goal for waste reduction, said Benson. The city had hoped to have residents toss just 125 kilograms of trash each by 2020, but city residents have already gotten their waste down to 114 kg each.
“This is a significant accomplishment for the city,” Benson said, as it suggests that residents are now keeping two out of every three tonnes of trash they toss out of the landfill. “We are very much in the upper echelon of municipalities.”
If the city can maintain this diversion rate, Benson said, St. Albert should meet and beat its two 2020 waste reduction goals eight years ahead of schedule.
City residents should give themselves a standing ovation for these accomplishments, said Coun. Wes Brodhead. “I’m ecstatic with the results.”
Residents composted about 8,000 tonnes of kitchen and yard waste during the last 12 months, said Benson – more than twice the amount they did in the year before. Recycling also increased by about 240 tonnes, but that could have been due to population growth.
The city also bought a new fleet of bigger garbage trucks with robot arms as part of last year’s new waste program. Because each truck can carry more, the trucks each travel about 2,600 kilometres less per year than their predecessors despite going to a more distant landfill, according to Benson, cutting fuel and maintenance costs.
The environmental advisory committee will review the city’s environmental master plan next year and recommend new targets to replace the ones the city has met, Benson said.
Public works would also roll out several tweaks to waste collection this year.
One of the biggest will be to the compost giveaway. Currently, the city holds one-day giveaways of compost bags filled by city staff. That’s a lot of work, and often leads to complaints as the compost runs out so fast.
This fall, Benson said, staff will instead hold a two-week giveaway where residents come in and fill their own bags. That should mean less work for staff and more time for residents to get their free dirt.
Crews were also working on the bagged leaves problem. “Debagging leaves is an incredibly expensive process,” Benson said. For years the city has actually been sending those bags of compostable leaves people set out each fall to the dump.
His department was looking at renting a de-bagger this year that would let them compost the leaves and chuck the bags. They were also considering Devon’s idea of using paper bags for fall leaf collection.
Mayor Nolan Crouse asked Benson when city buildings would start doing blue bag recycling and composting. It’s unacceptable for the city to ask its residents to do this stuff when it itself was not, he argued. “City hall should be role-modelling it this morning.”
City buildings do some recycling, Benson says, but don’t have single-stream blue-bag systems in place. The Jack Kraft facility in Campbell Park is currently trying out organics recycling.
He hopes to have blue bags set up at all city buildings by the end of July, and composting some time after that.
The waste report is available in the minutes of this week’s city council meeting.