There are several ways in which we as a city are working to divert the amount of waste that we send to our landfills and reduce our environmental impact. Most recently, we conducted a pilot program in four Calgary communities that has provided Waste & Recycling Services with important information to help shape a city-wide Food and Yard Waste diversion program. We are also working to divert construction and demolition materials as well as biosolids from our landfills.
Food and Yard Waste
The Green Cart pilot project has wrapped up and Waste & Recycling Services are now finalizing their report to Council that summarizes what was learned through the pilot project and contains recommendations for progressing to a city-wide program. The feedback from residents in participating communities – including Cougar Ridge – has been largely positive and participation has been high throughout the past year. We have heard from many Cougar Ridge residents who were concerned about losing the Green Cart service they have grown used to. At this time, W&RS will continue to offer this service to the pilot communities until such time as a city-wide program is launched.
The pilot summary report was presented to the Standing Policy Committee (SPC) on Utilities and Corporate Services at the end of March. A strategic session of Council will be held in mid-April to discuss the proposed composting facility. A report with recommendations for a city-wide food and yard waste diversion program will go to SPC in May.
Construction and demolition (C&D) and commercial waste
One of the major sources of waste going into Calgary's landfills is made up of construction and demolition (C&D) and commercial waste. The City has taken steps to divert increasing proportions of such waste by providing incentives to industry to separate these materials so that they can be repurposed. Companies are offered discounted rates in order to sort their material (such as wood, drywall and other C&D materials). This is currently offered at Spyhill Landfill and will be expanded soon to include Shepard Landfill.
Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic material produced as during the municipal wastewater treatment process. They contain nitrogen, phosphorous and organic materials in addition to essential micro-nutrients such as copper, iron and zinc. Removing organic matter and nutrients as part of the wastewater treatment process improves water quality discharged into the Bow River. The nutrient-rich properties of biosolids make it valuable as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner for agricultural lands.
Research has shown biosolids-to-land to be the most environmentally-sustainable and cost-effective method of recycling this nutrient-rich resource. Calgary has been enriching agricultural lands for more than 25 years.
The Calgro program provides Calgarians a cost effective and environmentally-sustainable method of recycling biosolids beyond incineration (which impacts air quality) and land-filling (which takes up valuable space). Biosolids are transported to approved agricultural lands within a 50 kilometre radius of the Shepard Lagoons in Calgary's southeast from April to October. The Calgro operation safely recycles more than 20 million kilograms of biosolids annually to agricultural lands within a 50 km radius of the Shepard Lagoons.
Currently, excess biosolids have nowhere to go but our landfills. An additional benefit of the future city-wide Greencart Program will be the construction of a modern composting facility that can handle not only food and yard waste, but will also make better use of excess biosolids. Once that facility is operational, we will be able to create a valuable end product from our organic waste and biosolids rather than the harmful by-products that are produced in our landfills, simultaneously increasing the efficiency of our waste and recycling programs and decreasing our environmental impact as a city.
Community gardening event
The Discovery Ridge Community Association, in conjunction with the New Discovery Homeowners Association, will be hosting a community gardening event on April 11 at Westside King's Church (3939 69 Street SW) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Residents from surrounding communities are invited to join the DRCA/NDHA as Donna Balzer, international TV host, award winning journalist and author of the book No Guff Vegetable Gardening, presents tips for effective vegetable gardening and answers audience questions. She will also be available to sign books.
The event will also include information booths with several local businesses and gardening experts on hand. The goal of the event is to bring together gardening enthusiasts to share tips and learn from experts as well as one another. It also promises to be a helpful evening for people who are new to gardening as well, or interested in taking it up.
Spring yard waste drop-off at City landfills
Between April 19 and June 2, residents can take yard waste like leaves, branches or plants to any City of Calgary landfill to be composted, free of charge. This is a great way to recycle a natural resource into a useful product.
The yard waste should be loose or in paper yard waste bags. If your load contains items other than yard waste, you may be charged a fee. For landfill locations and hours, visit http://www.calgary.ca/waste or contact 311.
Back to April 2013 report
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.