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Green cart - Frequently asked questions

We've received tremendous feedback about our Green Cart pilot program. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we have received through our Green Cart email and by talking to participants.

Using your green cart questions

Green Cart program questions

What can I put into the green cart?

All food including meat, fish, shellfish, bones, dairy products, breads, noodles and grains can go into the green cart.

See a list of what can go into the green cart.

Please leave these items out of your green cart.

Can animal waste go into the green cart?

We accept animal waste in the green cart; however, it must be put in a compostable or paper bag. Please do not use plastic or biodegradable bags because these bags do not break down during the composting process and will reduce the quality of the finished compost.

There are no health and safety issues with putting pet waste and kitty litter in the green cart. During the composting process, the material is heated to temperatures at which any harmful bacteria is killed.

Strict testing to meet Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Guidelines for Compost Quality is also conducted to ensure the compost is safe to use.

What can I use to line my kitchen pail?

It's okay to put your food and yard waste directly into your green cart, but we encourage you to use liners to keep your kitchen pail and green cart clean, and reduce odours.

Option #1: Certified compostable bag

Compostable bags can be purchased at most grocery, hardware and drug stores in Calgary. They're often found in the same aisle as garbage bags. Only use bags that have the certified compostable logos below:

Look for these logos on compostable bags

Please note: All paper food and yard waste bags are compostable and don't need a logo.

Option #2: Newspaper

Wrapping your food waste in newsprint or flyers will also help keep your kitchen pail clean. See our step-by-step instructions for creating a kitchen pail liner.

Option #3: Paper bag

Reuse sugar and flour bags or fast food paper bags to put into your kitchen pail.

What do I do with extra yard waste or branches?

For extra yard waste

Fill your green cart first. If you have more yard waste than will fit in the cart, put it in paper yard waste bags and place them near your green cart for collection.

For branches

Branches that do not fit inside the green cart or paper yard waste bag can be trimmed down to 1 metre (3 ft.) lengths, bundled together with non-plastic string and placed beside your green cart for pick-up.

Can I purchase compost from the program?

All of the material collected from the green carts is brought to a private composting facility near Strathmore, Alberta where it is mixed with food and yard waste from other sources and processed into compost.

Compost from this facility is sold as Greenharvest and Groundkeeper's Pride brands, which can be found at many independent lawn and garden centres.

Will there be a city-wide green cart program?

We plan to launch green cart service across Calgary in 2017 once the large-scale, indoor/outdoor composting facility on the Shepard Landfill site is up and running.

How is the Green Cart pilot going?

Since starting in March 2012, participation and the amount of food and yard waste we collect continues to grow. In one year, residents in pilot communities have reduced their garbage by 40 per cent compared to other communities without green cart service.

Get the full story on How is the green cart pilot going?

I'm already composting at home, why do I need a green cart?

The green cart can be used along with your backyard composter since the green cart accepts a wider range of food and yard waste - materials such as meat, bones, fish, shellfish, dairy products, pasta, breads, branches and weeds.

After many years of providing backyard composters at a subsidized cost, only 30 per cent of Calgarians are composting at home. We're still seeing that almost 60 per cent of residential garbage going to landfills is food and yard waste.

Like recycling, composting is the right thing to do. By piloting a green cart program, we're hoping to encourage more people to keep food and yard waste out of the landfill by providing a program that is easy and convenient.

Doesn't food and waste waste material break down in the landfill?

Food and yard waste does not break down into compost or soil in the landfill. See examples of food from more than 10 years ago that was dug up from our landfill.

Food and yard waste need oxygen to decompose into compost. When this material goes in a landfill, it gets mixed up with other garbage and is quickly buried and compacted.

Often the garbage stays in an airless environment, and very slowly breaks down. This can take decades. It also releases a lot of methane that contributes to climate change.

Learn more about why food doesn't break down in the landfill on our Why Green Cart page.

How did The City collect feedback from residents?

We contracted Ipsos Reid to do research with pilot participants. This included three rounds of random telephone surveys in February, June and December 2012.

The first survey connected with 362 residents of the four communities, the second reached 391 and the third involved 415 people. Ipsos attempted to get equal representation from each community for these surveys.

Ipsos also conducted two focus groups, 10 in-home interviews and one brainstorming session involving residents from all four pilot communities.

We've also collected valuable feedback about residents' experiences through greencart@calgary.ca, 311 and by talking to participants.

See the results from the research on How is the Green Cart pilot going?