In 2007, Council adopted the goal of diverting 80 per cent of waste from landfills by the year 2020. Progress is measured in terms of the amount of waste received at the city landfills per person. The target is to reduce waste disposed of in landfills to 188kg per capita by 2020 from 753 kg per capita in 2007.
Steady progress is being made: waste to landfills decreased in 2012 to 556 kg per capita, compared to 630 kg per capita in 2011. This can be attributed partially to the success of programs such as blue cart recycling, leaf and pumpkin composting, Christmas tree mulching, and electronics and tire recycling, as well as efforts made by citizens and the private sector to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
What Calgary has achieved so far:
Green Cart Pilot
The Green Cart Pilot began in March 2012, and was a success right from the start in the four participating Calgary communities. Pilot residents of Abbeydale, Brentwood, Cougar Ridge and Southwood received a 120-litre green cart and a kitchen pail for their food and yard waste, along with an instruction guide. The green carts were collected weekly, as were the blue recycling carts. Black garbage carts, now void of any ‘wet or smelly’ waste, were collected every second week.
Household garbage was reduced by over 40 per cent, as 1.9 million kilograms of food and yard waste was collected to be composted after one year. An Ipsos Reid Survey in December 2012 found that 83 per cent were satisfied with the size of the green cart, many saying that they would have liked them to be even bigger. 78 per cent did not have any concerns with having three carts. The findings from the pilot will be used to design a proposed city-wide composting program planned to launch in 2017.
Since the introduction of the blue cart recycling residential pick-up program in 2009, the program has been running successfully and the total diversion of recyclables in Calgary has increased significantly.
Waste & Recycling Services has been providing more services at the three city landfills to expand waste diversion opportunities. Since June 2012, collection of end-of-life electronics, including televisions, computers, and printers is available at the East Calgary, Shepard, and Spyhill sites. Additional waste diversion initiatives for the construction & demolition Sector were implemented this year, including an expansion of the materials being accepted. Residents are also able to take all vehicle tires, including rims, for recycling to any city landfill at no charge.
- 1,369 tonnes of commercial food waste were diverted at landfills for composting
- 973 tonnes of chemicals were diverted from landfills
- 34,464 Christmas trees were diverted from landfills
- 20,815 propane tanks were collected at Household Hazardous Waste locations at landfills
Improving Calgary’s performance in waste reduction:
The upcoming residential green carts for compost waste pickup, scheduled to begin in 2017, will help divert more than half the residential waste coming from households. Yard waste and food waste combined currently make up 57% of household waste, and 38% of multi-family household waste. When food and yard waste is buried in a landfill it takes decades to decompose (due to a lack of oxygen), all the while producing greenhouse gases such as methane gas, and harmful liquid leachate.
Calgary’s residential waste stream could also see improvement if, as residents, we ensure that all possible recyclable materials are placed into the recycling in our homes. The images above show that 11% of household waste and 23% of multi-family household waste is made up of materials that belong in the recycling, but instead are still being put into the garbage, ending up in the landfill.
The category of ‘other divertible waste’ accounts for 17% of household waste and 26% of multi-family household waste. This category includes divertible waste such as electronics, automotive batteries, scrap metals, large appliances, lumber, re-usable goods (clothing, sporting goods, etc.), and household hazardous waste including chemicals, paints, used motor oil, oil filters, oil containers, and propane tanks.
A large percentage of the waste going to Calgary landfills is also made up of non-residential waste, such as construction and demolition, as well as industrial, commercial and institutional. Moving forwards towards an increase in waste reduction will require continuous improvement in diversion from all sectors.
Stakeholder engagement is ongoing in the multi-family, institutional, commercial and industrial (ICI), and construction and demolition (C&D) sectors to increase opportunities for waste diversion. Through surveys, focus groups and workshops, the City of Calgary’s Waste and Recycling Services has been collecting feedback to help develop strategies that will move the city closer to the 80/20 by 2020 goal. In early 2014 waste diversion strategies for the ICI and multi-family sectors will be brought to Council.
In the 2012 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Calgarians again ranked garbage collection and recycling services highly in terms of value and importance. In terms of importance, W&RS is mentioned three times in the top 10. In the satisfaction ratings, 94 per cent of Calgarians were satisfied with residential garbage collection, 90 per cent with residential blue cart recycling, and 88 per cent with City-operated recycling programs.