TORONTO, Feb. 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Statistics recently provided to Waste Diversion Ontario by municipalities across the province show that local initiatives to keep organic materials out of landfill – particularly food waste or "Green Bin" programs – are definitely helping to increase residential waste diversion rates.
Organic waste includes yard waste (e.g., grass clippings and sticks/twigs), leaves, Christmas trees, bulky yard waste (e.g., large tree branches), and household or kitchen organics (e.g., food waste and food-soiled paper waste). Ontario has experienced a 39 per cent increase in the amount of all organics collected since 2007, which represents an average annual increase of 7.7 per cent.
In 2012, a total of 927,351 tonnes of residential organic waste was reported collected across the province, which equals the weight of over 100 million pumpkins. This represents a 5.3 per cent increase over the 2011 organics collection quantity of 880,126 tonnes.
Of the 2012 total I just mentioned, almost half (429,387 tonnes) was kitchen organics collected primarily at the curb, with a small amount from depots. Based on current curbside collection rates alone, if all 5,192,900 households in Ontario had access to curbside collection of organic waste, another 580,000 tonnes of organic material could be diverted from landfill. This would translate into a 12 percent increase in the province's overall residential diversion rate, which for 2012 stood at 47.19 per cent –meaning that the provincial residential diversion rate would rise to nearly 60 per cent.
Back in the early days of urban history, most garbage was food scraps and coal ash. The times may have changed with the introduction of new products and packaging, but people will always need to eat. Kitchen organics contributed 17 per cent by weight to the province's overall residential waste diversion efforts in 2012.
Gains in residential diversion can be achieved by starting a program (or expanding existing programs) to collect household organics. For example, the City of Guelph increased its overall residential waste diversion rate from 48.84 per cent in 2011 to 67.72 per cent in 2012. This 19 percent increase can be largely attributed to 2012 being the first full year of reporting on Guelph's reactivated organics program.
Guelph recently earned the top spot in Ontario for the best residential waste diversion rate in 2012. The city also came in first overall in 2012 for diverting the highest percentage of residential organic waste at 31.63 per cent of all residential waste in their program.
The number of Ontario municipalities that reported operating a residential organics program increased in 2012 over 2011 by five programs, or over 30,000 households. It is important to note that current kitchen organics programs in the province are voluntary. It is up to each municipality to decide if they want to operate such a program. For many municipalities with smaller populations, doing so might be cost-prohibitive. As well, there is currently no requirement for Ontario municipalities to report the amounts of organic waste collected, other than leaf and yard waste (for those municipalities with populations over 50,000).
If you are unsure about whether or not you have access to an organics program, including a Green Bin for kitchen organics, check with your local municipality.
SOURCE: Waste Diversion Ontario
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