Trent Lakes launches food waste diversion pilot project

·2 min read

Trent Lakes is diverting more food waste from its landfill thanks to a recently launched at-home compost alternative, says Chelsea Carpenter, the municipality’s waste management and public works co-ordinator.

One-hundred-and-twenty FoodCycler units have been sold to homeowners in the community since the municipality launched its waste diversion pilot project on Nov. 8 in partnership with Cornwall-based Food Cycle Science, according to Carpenter.

The Vitamix-made closed-loop countertop composter grinds food scraps — from eggshells and banana peels to vegetable leftovers — into a dry, odourless and nutrients-dense byproduct that can be added to indoor plants or outdoor gardens.

“The byproduct is significantly less in weight and volume than its previous state. So it reduces it by about 90 per cent,” Carpenter said.

After learning that some Ontario jurisdictions were jumping on board with the initiative, Carpenter reached out to Food Cycle Science. In August, she brought the idea to Trent Lakes councillors, who signed off on the pilot project.

Through a subsidy offered by the municipality, the FoodCycler units can be purchased by residents for $169.50.

The program aims to offer community members a quick and easy composting alternative that diverts waste while extending the life of the landfill and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, Carpenter said.

While Trent Lakes already offers outdoor digesters to divert waste, the backyard option isn’t always the most realistic for residents living in the area’s rough and rocky terrain.

“They can be used together. The FoodCycler isn’t meant to eliminate backyard composting. It can be used in conjunction with it,” Carpenter said.

So far, the response from residents has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.

“The feedback has been incredible. People can’t believe how much waste has been diverted.”

Janet Klein is one of them.

“I just put it on every night after dinner and empty it every morning. It hardly takes any room on the counter. I already see a decrease in my garbage,” Klein said.

During the 12-week tracking period, participating residents are asked to keep track of how often they use the composter.

“This will generate some really great data to be used by Food Cycle Science as well as the municipality to determine how successful this project has been and how much food waste has been diverted in going to the landfill,” Carpenter said.

Depending on interest, she hopes to continue the initiative in the spring, when a lot of seasonal Trent Lakes residents return to their properties.

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. Reach him at bburke@metroland.com.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner

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