Diverting residential food and yard waste from landfills has a significant economic and environmental impact. For the city of Airdrie, Alberta, sending organic matter to compost would cost 50% less than sending the same material to a landfill, and this material turns waste into a valuable product (compost), saves landfill space, reduces landfill fees, and reduces methane and greenhouse gases that organics generate in the landfill.
Recognizing these benefits, the city of Airdrie developed a five-year waste management strategy in 2009 that focused on a phased approach toward waste reduction. As part of this strategy, the city’s waste and recycling services department pursued a curbside organics recycling program, which would divert 52% of food and yard waste away from landfills.
Participation in the program would have a significant financial impact on the city’s waste and recycling budget (with an estimated cost savings of CDN$175,000 in the first nine months of the program). It would also boost the city’s reputation as an environmental steward.
The success of the program was defined by three key factors:
- Creating awareness of the program and convincing residents of its importance.
- Encouraging proper use of the program to ensure the material collected met contamination guidelines set by the vendor, ensuring the city didn’t incur large fines.
- Because organic waste is less costly to dispose of than regular garbage, (CDN$55/ton of organic waste versus CDN$107/ton of garbage), high participation would reduce waste sent to the landfill and offset rising landfill fees, which had increased by 65% since 2009.
The city’s corporate communication team set out to educate residents about organics recycling impacts and support participation in the first citywide curbside recycling initiative in Airdrie.
Prior to 2014,...
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