Peterborough County residents have until the end of the month to have their say about a proposed countywide organic waste collection program.
As the county considers introducing a door-to-door pickup program for organic waste, it’s encouraging residents to complete an online survey at surveymonkey.com/r/ organicsplan in a bid to gather feedback from the public.
As part of its waste management master plan update, the county is developing a county curbside organics plan aimed at diverting more waste from landfills while curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Almost 50 per cent of the waste produced in the area is sent to landfills, according to the county, while the other half is diverted through recycling programs, including the blue box program and organic waste drop-off depots.
Of all the garbage that’s thrown out, nearly half contains organic waste, the county says. When that organic waste makes its way to landfills, it decomposes, producing methane and carbon dioxide - gases that contribute to climate change.
The county is aiming to reach its goal of diverting 60 per cent of waste from landfills.
The county curbside organics plan, combined with feedback garnered through the survey, will shape how the county proceeds with its proposed curbside collection program.
"The county is in the process of a full assessment to determine best options, which may include a combination of organics collection at drop-off depots and curbside, " waste management manager Kasper Franciszkiewicz told The Examiner.
Currently, county residents can drop off their organic waste - from egg shells and fruits and vegetables to leftover meat and fish - at stations located in Apsley, Buckhorn, Havelock, Fraserville and Warsaw.
There are currently two pilot organic curbside collection programs running in Cavan Monaghan and Selwyn townships. Millbrook launched a pickup program in 2019. In Bridgenorth, collections have been running since 2006.
Selywn Deputy Mayor Sherry Senis said Bridgenorth residents are "appreciative" of the service, which offers weekly curbside collections of organic waste. Senis added that while participation in the program is relatively low - between 20 to 50 per cent of residents opt for collections - she’s hopeful more people will start composting once the township introduces its clear bag program.
Beginning in September, it will be mandatory for Selwyn residents to dispose of their waste in clear bags. It’s being enforced as a way of encouraging residents to separate their waste before it heads to the landfill.
Most municipalities in the county, including Trent Lakes, Douro-Dummer, Asphodel-Norwood, Cavan Monaghan and Otonabee-South Monaghan, have already made the switch to clear bags.
Peterborough County Warden and Douro-Dummer Mayor J. Murray Jones said adopting a countywide curbside pickup program for organic waste could help free up space at the city-county landfill on Bensfort Road, ultimately extending the site’s lifespan.
"It’s very costly to get a new site. So we’ve got to make it last as long as we can, " Jones said.
"After the survey is complete and more consulting is done, costs will be considered and county council will have to ultimately make a decision as to whether (a curbside collection program) is the way they want to go, " Jones added.
According to Franciszkiewicz, details about the proposed program, including feedback from community members, will be presented in a report to council this fall.
"The details around the service areas, frequency of collection, costs, and many other considerations will not be known until the analysis is complete and the best options are developed, " Franciszkiewicz stated in an email.
In the meantime, the county will be drawing from other jurisdictions that already offer curbside collections for organic waste.
Green bin programs are available in several municipalities across Ontario, including Muskoka, Simcoe County and Northumberland County.
The survey closes July 31.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner