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Market News

 March 24, 2007
Kitchen compost collection coming - Region starts green bin pick-up April 2

 (The Mississauga News - John Stewart) - One...two...three: Start collecting your banana peels and apple cores. "We are telling people to start collecting their organic wastes for collection the week of April 2," Peel Region director of waste Andrew Pollock said yesterday as the Region launched its green bin organic composting program, a key plank of its waste reduction strategy.

The Region has delivered green bins on wheels with accompanying kitchen composter buckets and a 10-page instruction manual to 285,000 homes in the past two months, the largest single, one-time rollout for an organics program anywhere to date in Canada.

Standing in the gigantic Peel Integrated Waste Management Facility on Torbram Rd. in Brampton, where organic wastes such as vegetable peelings, paper towel and greasy pizza boxes will be processed as the first step towards turning them into compost, Pollock said the green bin program is the next big step for Peel waste reduction.

The Region hopes to divert 70 per cent of its waste from landfill by 2016. It's at 45 per cent now with its recycling and yard waste programs and officials believe an additional 30 per cent can be diverted through organics collection.

Pollock expects more than 80 per cent of the Region's residents will participate in the weekly pickup right off the bat, about the same number that took part when Toronto launched its program several years ago.

Some residents are so anxious that they've already started putting out their tea bags, coffee grounds, stale bread and mouldy milk products.

"This is a magic moment for us," said Susan Antler, executive director of the Composting Council of Canada. "It's just like the opening of a gift at Christmas."

Instead of dumping organic waste into dumps, where its decay is among the chief causes of methane gas production, Antler said it will be returned to the earth as compost, "a fabulous, fabulous material."

Waste trucks will dump organic waste at the Torbram. Rd. plant, where it will be shredded and dumped into one of four 30-metre long temperature and humidity-controlled tunnels. After seven days of processing, it'll be sent to Peel's Caledon yards where it will be "cured" for up to eight weeks and then sold as top-quality compost at garden and recycling centres. The plant should produce about 60,000 tonnes of compost annually.

Antler said Peel is paving the way for other municipalities.

"You have a huge responsibility to show it will work," she said.

Although critics say participation will be hurt by the so-called "yuck factor" of dealing with decaying meat, animal fat and mouldy bread, waste diversion campaigner Rod Muir of the Sierra Club dismissed that concern.

"That's nonsense," he said. "Five minutes ago, you were just eating it. You recycle a banana peel or a lettuce leaf or a tomato just the way you would recycle a pop can or a newspaper."