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The Value of Diverting Food and Yard Waste from Landfills

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Ward 6 official website
January 13, 2017
At the 2017 Mid-cycle Budget Adjustments, I requested information related to Green Cart benefits with particular interest in the true costs of landfills. The Green Cart program will both protect the environment and avoid future landfill costs as follows:
Create nutrient-rich compost
The food and yard waste that is put in green carts will be turned into a high quality compost to enrich the soil in gardens, community parks and local farms. The new composting facility is advanced and can accept a much wider range of materials than a backyard composter. It’s expected over 85 million kilograms of material will be turned into compost each year.
Protect our land, air and water resources
When food and yard waste is compacted in the landfill there’s no oxygen so it doesn’t turn into soil or anything good. In fact, it creates methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) and leachate (a liquid that seeps through the landfill picking up other contaminants). Expensive protective systems are in place to capture methane and leachate to protect public health and our precious land, air and water resources.
Keep material out of landfills to avoid future landfill costs
If we fill up our current landfills, finding new space will be a difficult and expensive process. New landfill applications continue to be largely unsuccessful because of increasingly stringent regulations combined with citizens not wanting to reside by a landfill. There are now few, if any jurisdictions, in North America that will accept waste from other jurisdictions, on any terms! Even if the City did get regulatory approval for another landfill inside our City limits (an unimaginably poor use of our land), it comes at significant costs. The cost to buy land, make capital investments in protective systems, set aside funds for long-term landfill liabilities, and operate the landfill over 25 years are estimated at $1.5 billion. By composting, we can preserve the valuable space left in our current landfills and avoid future costs.

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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