By Larke Turnbull

Stratford is about to get greener – and not because spring is coming.

In the next few weeks, the city will roll out its green bin program that aims to keep organic waste out of our landfill.

The bins will be delivered starting the week of March 9, along with kitchen catchers and instructions, to most city residents, and the first collection is scheduled for April 6.

The green bin program is meant to decrease curbside garbage, said Kate Simpson, the city’s waste reduction co-ordinator. It’s estimated the program will divert about 1000 tonnes from the landfill just from residential sources.

The tonnage is based on waste audits that show about one third of residential waste is organic.

“So if we can divert that, then people are putting out less garbage, we’re burying less garbage and people will pay for less waste,” she said.

Information delivered with the bins will include a list of what can and can’t go into the green bins, along with tips on how to maintain the bin and keep it clean.

Some information on the green bin program was included with the 2020 waste collection calendar that was delivered to homes earlier this year. There’s also a whole page on the city website dedicated to the program.

Green Bin Do's and Don'ts

On its website, the City of Stratford provides tips and lists of what can and can’t go in your household green bin.

For now, the program is for single-family dwellings and multiple units of up to five families. Eventually the program will be extended to apartment and condo dwellers, as well as commercial, industrial and institutional operations.

Simpson has had a lot of interest from apartment dwellers who really want to participate, she said. “I love the enthusiasm. For apartments and condo buildings, we’re trying to figure out when we will launch that next level.”

People will be able to dispose of organic waste like fruit and vegetable peelings in the green bins, items that many now put into backyard composters. People can continue to compost those items if they want.

But the green bins will also take materials that can’t go into a composter, such as meat, fish, eggs, oils and salad dressings.

“Those are things you do not want to put in your backyard composter because they attract rodents and pests,” she said. The green bins will be animal proof.

They will be collected weekly, said Simpson.  “Every garbage day, even if the bin is only a quarter full, we’re recommending that you put it out to the curb, just to ensure that things don’t rot over an extended period of time in the bin, because that causes odours for the household.”

Also, there’s no curb-side fee for your green bin.

“One other thing to reiterate, you do not put a garbage tag on this, this is not a tagged program, so we’re telling people not to put a garbage tag on it. Just like the blue box.”

Waste collected from the green bins will be taken initially to StormFisher, a biogas facility in London, and then to a facility the company is building in Drumbo. Eventually, the materials will be used at the renewable natural gas plant the city plans to build at the water pollution control plant.

It is estimated that about 2.3 million tonnes of food and organic waste was sent to disposal [in Ontario] in 2015. When these valuable materials end up in a landfill, they contribute to climate change. As food and organic waste breaks down in an oxygen-deprived environment, it creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector accounted for 8.6 megatonnes of carbon dioxide, or approximately 5% of Ontario’s total greenhouse gas emissions from all sources. ~ Ontario’s Food and Organic Waste Framework, citing figures from Environment and Climate Change Canada