What do fruits and veggies, coffee filters, and leftovers from last night’s dinner have in common? They’re all compostable and accepted by the City of Calgary’s new green cart program.

The city began rolling out green carts to single-family homes in June 2017 with a kitchen pail and a starter supply of compostable bags and yard waste bags. They are expected to deliver more than 320,000 carts by late September.

Philippa Wagner, the city’s green cart implementation leader, says that a green cart pilot program started in four Calgary communities in 2012 saw the amount of waste going to landfills cut almost in half.

“We’re taking material that would otherwise be buried in a landfill and turning it into a nutrient-rich compost that can be used by landscapers, farmers and gardeners to enrich their soil,” Wagner says.

All kitchen scraps and yard waste will be taken to a brand-new compost facility and turned into finished compost in 60 days. The majority of the compost will be sold, while some will be donated to community gardens and made available to Calgarians free of charge.

Calgary joins other Canadian cities, like Edmonton, with a composting program. Edmonton built a composting facility in 2000, and sorts through residential garbage to recover as
much organic waste as possible before sending it to be broken down. With composting and recycling combined, Edmonton diverts about 60 percent of residential garbage from landfills.

Mark Stumpf-Allen, the City of Edmonton’s compost programs coordinator, has been composting for decades, and doesn’t let any organic waste end up in his garbage bin. He encourages the estimated 20 percent of Calgarians who already compost to keep up the good work.

“Edmonton’s challenge to Calgary is don’t stop backyard composting, because that’s the best thing you can do for the environment,” he says.

Calgary green cart tips and tricks

– Put your kitchen scraps in a certified compostable bag or newspaper lining inside your new kitchen pail.
– Empty the dishwasher-safe pail every few days into your green cart along with yard waste.
– Check the collection schedule at calgary.ca/collection. Green carts and blue carts will be picked up on the same day every week, while black carts will be picked up on a different day every other week. You can sign up for free reminders on collection on the same website.

What to put in your kitchen pail:

– Plate scrapings
– Meat, fish and bones
– Fruits and vegetables
– Bread and noodles
– Eggshells and dairy products
– Coffee filters and tea bags
– Paper plates, napkins and tissues
– Cooking oil, sauces and grease

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