Friday, November 3, 2017

A critical time for reducing waste

City of Edmonton Composting Facility Aeration Hall
A view of the compost aeration hall
Waste reduction week 2017 (October 16-22) was just a few weeks ago, and since then, city managers have discovered that part of our  Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence is having some structural problems. The snowfall on the aging roof of the Composting Facility's 18-year-old aeration hall, a building large enough to hold 2.3 CFL-sized football fields, has rendered the building unsafe.

This means that all of the city's waste, including our organic compostable kitchen scraps, now must be trucked 85 km down the road to the landfill at Ryley, AB, until a solution can be found. In the meantime, Edmontonians need to do everything we can to reduce our waste. Recyclable materials will still be recycled -- it's the things that can't be recycled that we should give more consideration.

Do you know where your garbage goes? How many fossil fuel emissions are involved in getting it to its destination? If you've never given the idea of composting a thought, now's the time to do it. If there's a corner of your yard where you can put a compost bin that you can fill with organic kitchen waste (plant matter, vegetable peelings, fruit cores, coffee grounds, tea leaves, etc.) over the winter, now's the time to do it. If you'd rather start composting in the spring, compostable waste can be frozen in an outdoor plastic garbage can until things warm up. The Compost' S cool website has different ideas to help homeowners reduce the compostable part of their garbage, and our libraries have many resources about composting and recycling ideas.

As for the non-compostable stuff, in Edmonton we need to make sure that we're making full use of our blue bags for recyclingEco-Stations for electronics, chemical waste and large items, the Reuse Directory -- which lists charity organizations that accept reusable items -- and Edmonton's own ReUse Centre. Other cities and towns have their own ways of reducing the tonnage that goes to landfill -- for many Canadians it's just a matter of doing a little research and jumping on board with the good planning that's already in place.

But probably the most important thing we can do is question ourselves every time we are about to dispose of something. We need to ask ourselves: Is this really garbage? Is it still usable in any way? Can it be repaired? Would someone else be able to use it? Should I throw it away or find a different way to get rid of it?

And we need to question ourselves every time we go shopping, whether it be for groceries or other household needs. Again we can ask ourselves: Do I really need this right now? Can I wait a little longer for it? Is there a way to buy it without so much packaging? and other questions, depending on the item...

Now is a critical time for reducing waste in our city, but really every day should be. It's simply good practice to keep waste reduction in mind at all times because all of the "leftovers" in our lives will have to go somewhere else eventually, even once this problem with the Compost Facility is fixed. It's always better if our things can be passed on, composted, or recycled rather than ending up in a landfill 85 km away!


  1. Those comments about questioning our choices and ourselves are thought provoking, and I love that you finished with simple acts that have a very positive impact.
    Can I share this publicly?


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