June 8, 2018 4:31 pm
Updated: June 8, 2018 4:35 pm

Edmonton abandons special yard waste plan for now

This picture shows one day's worth of organic waste, mainly grass clippings, at the Edmonton Compost Facility in June 2013.

Courtesy, City of Edmonton
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The city is abandoning a plan announced in February to have two special collection dates this fall for residential yard waste. Instead staff are working on a new idea that will roll out in the spring.

Gone is the notion of two specific collection days for yard waste.

“We blinked a little bit at council on the yard waste, grass cycling business so that’s why we’re going to do this deeper dive on engagement,” Councillor Michael Walters said.


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After it was first announced, there was a lot of confusion among citizens even though the notion of complete separation of yard waste from the rest of the waste stream was still more than a year away.

READ MORE: Edmonton council committee adopts grass clipping ban from curbside pickup

Complicating matters is bringing on a new anaerobic digester to process organic waste that was supposed to work in conjunction with Edmonton’s ageing composter that is being shut down since it can’t safely work in the winter, in a building that has rotted, and poses hazardous working conditions.

READ MORE: Report finds Edmonton’s composter building cannot be saved

For deputy city manager Gord Cebryk, it means plans change.

“We’re going to modify it,” he told council’s utilities committee on Friday.

“The fall was going to have two identified pickups only and now what we’ve done is effectively said that we’re going to do the engagement and anything that will come into effect will be in the spring of 2019.”

Surveys are being compiled and will ask residents in the fall about what you think of a whole array of waste collection options. As for what that will mean in the spring, Cebryk told reporters: “We don’t know yet because we haven’t done that engagement.”

“Whether there’s bins or bags or different coloured bags or quantities of bags, that engagement… will shape the conversation when we come back in January to update council.”

READ MORE: Trash talk: Edmonton proposes changes to garbage separation and disposal

“We’re not going to jump to a conclusion yet because we still have to look at what citizens want and what council wants and what they’re really looking for out of this.”

Come October, when the composter wraps up its work for the season, waste services branch manager Mike Labrecque said you’ll see normal garbage pickup at the curb. You won’t be forced to leave your yard waste in a separate bag.

“For this fall, things will stay the way they are.

“That means we will pick it up and we’ll process it, and whatever we can get in the organics stream and our anerobic digester, we will. And the volume that we can’t will end up in the landfill.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s long-praised waste management system struggling to divert 50% of residential garbage

“We’re going to run the composting facility all summer,” Labrecque said. “But then we’re going to shut it down in October.

“The only organics processing capacity we’re going to have is going to be through the anerobic digester.

“So there’ll be more organics going to landfill than we’d like but that’s clearly the implication of the composter not being able to run past October,” Labrecque said.

The city has a diversion rate from the landfill target of 90 per cent, but it is not even close to meeting it. Because of the composter problems this year, the actual rate is falling to near half of that.

Next year’s plan is to address getting closer to the target.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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