Green City

Green Cart Composting

By Jason Leach
Published January 03, 2006

I believe green cart composting is a big issue in Hamilton. become a sustainable city:

The Green Cart Program provides curbside organics collection for approximately 2500 households in the City of Hamilton. Phase I of the program was deemed a success with residents diverting anywhere from 34% to 63% of their waste from landfill. Phase II of the program began in May 2004, with the addition of approximately 2000 households. Results from Phase I and II of the program have provided valuable information that has been used to shape the program being rolled-out across the City in the spring of 2006.

The Spec and CH will do their part in presenting all the crybabies who would rather dump everything into the harbour, but initiatives like this will really change Hamilton's image - by changing its reality.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted January 12, 2006 at 08:03:41

The only problem is that composting in the back yard is lots cheaper than green carts.

Black Norseman composters are everywhere in the city already; but one needs to look far and wide to see one actually USED.

WHy not charge for garbage, it works elsewhere.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2006 at 09:37:18

Hi Ted,

You're quite right, but a) many people live in apartments and have limited composting ability (and nowhere to put the compost once it has cooked), and b) even among people who live in houses, many simply won't compost and/or don't have any use for the fertilizer that comes out of it.

Citywide composting is still a significant improvement over throwing perfectly good food scraps into landfills.

Another benefit is that compost can be allocated more effectively where it is needed. We consistently produce a lot more compost than we could possibly use, so we end up giving much of it to our neighbours. If they all composted too, our street would produce a huge net surplus of fertilizer.

A central composting facility can do something productive with that surplus (apply it to public lands, saving the city the cost of nitrogen fertilizer, sell it to farmers, etc.).

Also, our composter tends to fill up over the winter when it's too cold to function (obviously that hasn't been a problem this winter). We have limited space for a second composter, but even if we made room, we'd still have the problem of all that compost and nowhere to put it.

As for charging to pick up garbage: the city's garbage plan, an early version of which was announced to howls of outrage last year, did charge for garbage past a certain amount, but the allowable limit was ridiculously high - six garbage bags.

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog.asp?id=087

I'd say no family should produce more than one black garbage bag per week (and even that's high once families recycle and compost).

Our household usually produces one grocery bag's worth a week for a family of four with three pets, simply be recycling and composting appropriately.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted January 20, 2006 at 07:01:16

Certainly, green carts would allow more diversion, especially the smelly stuff.

I've actually weighed some of our garbage and extrapolated, compared to city figures, we're at 65% already. That's with just normal blue box use and a composter (read racoon feeder, the local rodent can remove the rotatable top quite easily but I've yet to get it on tape!).

But, last year a couple of small construction waste loads completely erased that achievement.

There's a lot of "good stuff" in the bins at transfer stations that could be reinvented as something else.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 06, 2006 at 02:50:00

We invested in a fancy racoon-proof composter and stuck it in the backyard. The next day, my wife went out to drop off some table scraps and a racoon opened the lid - from inside - and looked out at her.

We've found the racoons particularly enjoy shrimp shells and vegetable biryani.

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By Wayne (anonymous) | Posted April 04, 2006 at 07:34:15

I have to laugh, we got green carts up here in Waterdown today. Being born in the early 60's I've already been part of the "green" movement for decades, but this diversion program is a laugh. We have 4 cubic yards of compost already going in our backyard (we are a "semi-rural" suburb where we live in the old part of Waterdown), and these green things are just an invitation to the multitudes of racoons. So not only am I now expected to fork out for paper bags for leaf waste (what a waste of energy and money - we use reusable containers when required), but now I am expected to buy some fancy waste scrap liner bag and, I guess, a set of bungee cords or some other way to keep out the racoons (who don't bother with the locking rubbermaid regular garbage cans).

Umm...but they don't even recycle foam plates or odd plastics (even though we sneak them in each week anyway).

Whose counting the extra labour and tax cost to pick-up and divert the compostable waste?

On top of that the City of Hamilton cut back then cancelled our Bulk Pick-Up days (when almost 80% or more of what was put out was diverted to scrap and antique dealers).

I can see the wooded parts off Mountain Brow Road filling with old sofas already (these likely come up from Burlington mostly).

It's just another example of the "City" of Hamilton mismanaging the affairs of the smaller amalgamated villages... Mike Harris' legacy continues to haunt us.

At least I'll get some more exercise taking out an extra green cart (that will likely have a tiny bag in it each week).

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By Resident (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2006 at 17:17:56

Green Cart liners are cost prohibitive at 70c each.
Washing the cart is impractical.
Any suggestions on how to fully protect the cart inner from the horrible liquid mess?

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By Carty (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2006 at 21:28:38

it's easy to wash it. just hose it out.

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By Ellie (anonymous) | Posted June 12, 2006 at 16:51:15

Resident...

You don't have to buy those the bags at all, a few suggestions are:
-using newspaper
-buying paper lunch bags...GT French has huge packs for under 5 dollars
-ask for paper bags when you grocery shop instead of plastic, use those
-use nothing! The smaller mini-bin is dishwasher safe, the larger bin is easily washed out with a hose.
-if you're afraid of the liquid mess, kept a container in the upstairs bathroom..collect a week's worth of kleenex and paper towel in it, dump that as the first product in the green cart each week...it will soak up the wetness
...OR if you don't like the ends of a loaf of bread, try that.

Be creative! It's not that hard, it is just a change in the way you do things!


...Also, backyard composters are great...but the green cart takes things that it can't...like meat with bones, dairy and certain toxic vegetables like rhubarb. Even if that can be diverted from the landfill it will make a difference.

...don't sneak plastic into your green cart. why wouldn't you just put into the blue box. Why wreck the compost batch? That's immature and inconsider. Some people work hard to participate in the program, why do you NEED to ruin it for other people?

..and if you read your waste collection calender carefully (or if you even bother to read it at all) you are getting MORE bulk collection pick ups now...every week besides the leaf and yard weeks. You're just asked to call in the week before. This makes so much more sense. It makes people think of alternative ways to get rid of larger items before they send it to landfill.

I'm frustrated by the comment of "sneaking plastic" into the mix. That's irresponsible, please don't do it. You know better. It's like me letting my dog do his business on your lawn and not picking it up after.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 21, 2006 at 09:55:49

great discussion here folks.....we've been using our green cart since it arrived and usually only have a small bag of garbage out now (full of diapers!). Once our baby is done with diapers, I can't really see how we'll have any garbage. As for smell and racoons, I use the Spectator to line my bin. lay 2 full sections across each other then when you throw out the small bin at the end of the day, layer another 2 sections across each other on top of the food pile. I use the sports page for the small bin, since it fits in nicely. I'm working on a vine/arbour type of thing that will cover my blue boxes and green bin to protect them from the sun, but for now I haven't had trouble with bugs. During the really hot weather recently some slugs showed up so I poured in a small amount of white vinager and that took care of that.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2006 at 22:32:11

You mean you're not using cloth diapers? They're much cheaper, easy to clean, and much more environmentally friendly.

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By Marie (registered) | Posted July 12, 2006 at 09:47:25

I think the Green Cart is great! My only concern, at present, is the limits put on 'green' waste from July through and until October. People with even just a little bit of property will exceed the weekly limit of Green Cart plus 1 yard waste bag.

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By Waste watcher (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2006 at 10:20:01

One can use a cereal or cracker box (with plastic liner removed) as a container in the small Green Cart.
The small container can be put at the curb if you don't have enough compostables for the large cart.

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