One of the most important issues for me in my role as councillor and as a member of this community is finding ways of ensuring that we leave a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. During my time so far on council I have worked hard to make sure that the decisions we make help London to be a more sustainable city to live in today and tomorrow.
One of the ways in which we may have an opportunity to further this goal is by implementing the Green Bin Program that is in use in a large and growing number of cities across Canada.
What is the Green Bin Program?
The Green Bin Program is landfill diversion system through which organic materials are collected and turned into compost instead of being dumped in landfills. Simply put, a Green Bin is like a Blue Box for your kitchen scraps. In this program kitchen food scraps, including meats and bones, dairy products, vegetable peels, yard trimmings, compostable paper products, and other organics are collected at the curb in a Green Cart or Bin instead of in a regular garbage bag. The Green Bins are then taken to a central composting facility and made into compost.
The potential cost savings of these programs are huge. To give an example, let’s assess our own garbage. Let’s say each family per block puts out four bags of garbage a week. Right now all of that waste is going directly to the landfill which is beginning to strain its capacity. All of which costs the city of London money. Now, if we instead removed everything organic and recyclable and sorted it between two conveniently sized bins – what’s left over for our regular waste pick up? Municipalities that have implemented Green Bin Programs alongside streamlined recycling programs have seen households go from putting out several bags of garbage a week to putting out one bag a month.
The beauty of these programs is that when implemented effectively they provide communities not only with a more efficient waste disposal system, but also save municipalities money all while helping to combat the ongoing effects of climate change.
Gains vs. Costs
The long term gains of implementing a Green Bin Program cannot be understated. When done right Green Bin Programs can divert 30% or more of a city’s waste and increase a landfill’s capacity for years to come.
Although we have room to expand our landfill space at present, this expansion will cost us, with costs increasing exponentially as time goes on. Roughly 60% of all waste that we normally throw into the garbage is Green Bin compostable. Added up that is thousands of dollars in savings every year that we are literally throwing away. It is in the best interest of Londoners to minimize the use of our landfill so that we can both reduce costs and make sure that what we have today is available to future generations.
That being said, there is no denying that there will be a tangible financial cost to implementing this program to start off with. Green Bin Collection Services will take extra time and money to implement and maintain.
However, London has a distinct municipal advantage that many other cities do not! Most other cities have to have their compostables, recyclables, and landfill waste trucked out to external processing plants. London has private organic waste processing facilities right here at home (in addition to its own in house recycling and landfill services).
Green Bin vs. Compost: What’s the Difference?
It is also important to note that while the Green Bin Program may sound very similar to the composting many of you probably already do in your own backyards there are some key differences.
For instance, while backyard composting is great for responsibly and organically disposing of small yard waste trappings as well as things like fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grinds, and eggshells there’s a long list of organic items you can’t compost at home.
Green Bins on the other hand provide home owners with an efficient and convenient way to dispose of all organic materials. Green Bins can also take other items from the rest of your home such as dryer lint, shredded paper, and Kleenex that backyard compost piles cannot. Depending on the system the city chooses to employ the Green Bin Program can also be used to potentially reduce the need for semi-annual large scale yard waste pick up.
It is also worth mentioning that one of the program’s greatest benefits is that it makes responsibly disposing of organic waste possible for everyone. While those of you that own your own homes may have the space and control over you environment to compost on a regular basis this is simply not the case for thousands of Londoners. Those that live in apartments or condos; high density housing, dorm rooms, affordable housing, and senior’s residences do not have the space or the necessary authority or control over their environment to compost their organic waste. Implementing the Green Bin Program means that all Londoners can participate equally and fully in composting and can help save our planet regardless of their housing situation.
Share Your Thoughts
I am encouraged and excited about the potential of this program in reducing our overall landfill use and creating a more sustainable future, but I want to hear your thoughts. I was elected by you, to represent you and your interests. Your opinions matter and I want to hear them. This program cannot succeed without participation, cooperation, and partnership so don’t hold back. Tell me what you think of the idea of bringing the Green Bin program to London, whether you think the benefits outweigh the costs, and whether you’d participate if it was implemented.