Benefits of City Composting

In time for Earth Day on April 22, the City of Vancouver announced a new three-phase curbside compost pick-up program for single-family homes. According to the City, phase one will allow families to add their vegetable and fruit scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters to their yard trimming bins. In early 2011, we’re supposed to see this service extended to include all food scraps including meats, fish, dairy, bread, cereal products and food-soiled paper. The compost will be handled by a commercial composting facility, Fraser Richmond Soil & Fibre, which can generate the right amount of heat and moisture to break down this matter appropriately and in a timely manner.

As of yet, this program is unfortunately not available for apartment dwellers, although the City is working on a plan for Metro Vancouver to add collection to multi-family units and businesses. The good news is that there are some private grassroots initiatives starting up in Vancouver that are addressing the commercial composting challenge. Growing City for example started servicing the downtown Vancouver area last year.

There are significant reasons why cities, such as Vancouver, are finally jumping on the composting bandwagon. While composting initially costs more than land-filling, over the long-term, the benefits will outweigh these costs. Organic material from single-family homes in Vancouver makes up over 35 percent of garbage that ends up in our landfill. By diverting it to a local composting facility instead, we can reduce a large source of landfill-generated greenhouse gases, extend the life of our landfill, and generate a valuable resource for the community in the form of premium soil and mulch. What’s more, this industry generates additional jobs, and word has it that Fraser Richmond will also add technology that will allow for the production of renewable energy as of 2011. You can find out more on this through their parent company, Harvest.

Significant municipal infrastructure progress, such as adding new composting plants and programs, is good news for the alternative packaging industry. Such infrastructural change makes it easier to introduce innovative new packaging materials (made from agricultural fibers for example) as alternatives to traditional plastic packaging. It is one thing to find alternatives to plastic packaging, but if the infrastructure isn’t there to support that switch, it is more difficult to promote change.

More resources:

The Province: Vancouver OKs yard composting beginning April 22

Andrea Reimer: Curbside & Neighbourhood Compost Comes to Vancouver!

Granville Online: Curbside compost pickup in Metro Vancouver

Compost Council of Canada

US Composting Council

Natural Resources Defense Council: Keep organics and recyclables out of landfills and incinerators

Wikipedia: Composting

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  2. composters’s avatar

    The biggest financial benefit of keeping a compost pile is that you don’t need to pay for fertilizer or expensive potting soils.Nice article!very informative!