Peterbrough County asks: Is banning organic waste from landfill practical?

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Peterborough County already does some organics recycling but wonders what the provincial ban will cost to implement – Oct 10, 2017

Under the proposed Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, Queen’s Park wants to ban organic waste from landfill sites across the province.

Organic waste is largely kitchen waste and when it decomposes in the landfill, it creates methane gas which contributes to global warming and climate change.

Peterborough County already has a organics curbside pick-up pilot program in place and has four organics collection stations.

READ MORE: Eliminating garbage from Ontario landfills no easy task despite zero-waste strategy

The organic waste is then sent to a city-owned composting yard but Tara Stephen, who is with the county, says that facility is at capacity and the province will have to provide some direction on where to go next if the amount of organic waste being collected suddenly increases due to a ban.

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Another issue, Stephen said, is about half of the organics residents are putting in the trash is unused food.

“When we do waste audits, we find that 30 to 40 per cent of garbage generated in the county is organic waste and half of that is just wasted food,” said Stephen. “It’s just food that people have bought and just haven’t eaten. That’s a big issue and that’s the first step that the province has identified as needing to manage.”

READ MORE: Ontario government aiming to keep organic waste away from landfills

Second Harvest is a Toronto organization that gathers unwanted food from the processing, wholesale and retail sectors and supplies it to food banks and meal programs.

Lori Nikkel, with Second Harvest, says getting unwanted food from consumers is a much more difficult proposition, even though they are responsible for 49 per cent of wasted food. She says people need to plan menus carefully and to avoid impulse buying.

“But more importantly, it’s an environmental problem, so the greenhouse gasses alone along with everything that’s wasted across the supply chain, so all that water that’s used in the harvest, all the transportation, all the energy, all of that’s lost if that carrot goes in the garbage,” said Nikkel.

The provincial government intends to launch its Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario next year.