A green bin could be coming to a curb near you.
A $3.5 million pilot project will see 1,000 households in 10 Regina neighbourhoods test out weekly curbside organic waste pickup in hopes of easing the strain on the city’s landfill.
In the long run, the city hopes to see everything from meat and dairy to yard trimmings banned from the garbage can.
“Food and yard waste makes up about 50 per cent of residential waste,” Regina director of solid waste Lisa Legault said. “It is not garbage, but a valuable resource that can be used to produce nutrient rich compost and energy.”
A yard waste depot will open in the spring prior to the pilot’s launch in 2020.
The city is aiming to divert 65 per cent of household waste away from the landfill. Since launching blue bin recycling in 2015, the diversion rate has remained steady at 20 per cent.
“When you start getting recycling out of the waste stream, almost half of what’s left is organic, so the potential for removing these materials from landfills and all the harm they do in landfills is great,” Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council executive director Joanne Fedyk noted. “They contribute to methane in landfills. That’s a very powerful greenhouse gas and if you remove it in compost, you don’t get that- plus, you can make a product out of it.”
Regina is the only Canadian city with a population over 150,000 people without a composting program.
Still, Mayor Michael Fougere wants to be sure the city isn’t rushing into it.
“Capacity is important. Determine what the cost will be for taxpayers, we want to know what that’s going to be as well,” Fougere said. “We’re not disputing the feasibility of it. It does work. We need to know what does the Regina model look like.”
Councillors John Findura and Jerry Flegel voted against the program.
Findura felt the city hasn’t seen enough success with blue recycling bin pickup, though he agrees more can be done to help the environment.
“We have two. We don’t need a third one,” Findura urged. “We need to find another solution, another way- a depot. There’s enough spaces around Regina that you can set up depots and that’s a better way of doing this.”
Long term, the city hopes the project will be successful enough to lower the frequency of garbage pickup.
It’s not yet known if cost to residents would be tied to utilities or property taxes. If linked to taxes, city administration estimates the cost for a $350,000 house would be roughly $36 per year.
Those participating in the pilot project will not be billed.
If implemented in full, the annual cost of the program is estimated at $7.9 million. The city expects to save almost $5 million with a decrease in garbage pickup at the same time.
The solid waste department estimates the city landfill, which serves other communities in the region, will have to be decommissioned after 28 years if more waste isn’t diverted.