Ottawa's "Green Bin" Municipal Composting Program is About to Take Off!


Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Bring Out Your... Organic Waste
Yesterday I got my green bin from the city of Ottawa. They've been handing them out to residents since September 2009 (except for those in a pilot program), and everybody should have one by December except for people living in high-rise buildings and residences with common pad collection (that will come later). The collection of organic waste is set to begin in January 2010, and since about 45% of the waste collected by the city is compostable, and since anaerobic decomposition in landfills produces large quantities of methane (a powerful greenhouse gas), it has the potential to make a pretty big difference. But how does it work?
Photo: Michael Graham Richard
All Cities Should Have Composting Programs
It's pretty simple really. Starting in January 2010, the city will pick up the contents of the green bins along with regular trash collection (once a week in most places, and every two weeks during winter).


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Unlike regular backyard composting, you can put almost anything in your green bin (this is because the large scale composting facilities that are used allow the organic matter to reach much higher temperatures, breaking things down faster than backyard heaps):

All leftover food scraps, Baking ingredients, herbs, spices, Bread, bagels, Candies, gum, Cereals, grains, oatmeal, Chips, popcorn, Coffee grounds, filters, Cookies, cakes, muffins, pastries, Crackers, Dairy products, Dough,
Eggs and egg shells, Fruit scraps, Jams, jellies, marmalades, chutney, Leftover cooking oils, lard, shortening, fat, butter, margarine, Meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, pork (bones and scraps), Nuts and shells, Pasta, beans, rice, Peanut butter, Pet food, Pits (olives, cherries, peaches), Salad dressing, mayonnaise, vinegar, sauces, marinades, dips, syrup, gravy, Seeds, Syrup, Tea and tea bags, Vegetable scraps, ranches and twigs
Garden and house plants, Hedge trimmings, Leaves and grass, Animal bedding (e.g. from bird or hamster cages), BBQ, cold fireplace ash, Butcher's paper meat wrap,
Cold fireplace ash, Cotton balls, Dryer lint, Fireplace ashes, Floor sweepings, Household plants, including soil, Kitty litter (including urine and fecal material), Microwave popcorn bags, Muffin paper, Paper cups and plates, Pet fur and hair, feathers, Popsicle sticks, Soiled napkins, paper towels, Soiled paper, soiled boxboard, and cardboard, Soiled tissues, Sugar, potato, flour paper bags, Toothpicks, Untreated wood scraps (less than four inches in any dimension), Vacuum bag contents and bag
Woodchips, sawdust

Quite a list!

The only thing they ask not to put in are "Plastic bags of any kind (even the compostable varieties aren't allowed) and Diapers and sanitary products (as they contain plastics)".


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Photo: Michael Graham Richard

The two photos above are of the small "kitchen container" that you can keep inside. It has tiny holes on the to lid to provide air flow (to avoid anaerobic decomposition), but the holes are small enough to keep fruit flies away.

On top of the environmental benefits, the city will also be saving taxpayers some money: "By extending the life of our landfills, we can delay sourcing and setting up new landfills - a very expensive proposition."

For more info about Ottawa's composting program, check out the city's website: Green Bin Ottawa.

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Tags: Canada | Composting

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