Organics Diversion Strategy

No decisions have been made on the Organics Diversion Strategy. Before moving forward with any plan, public consultations will be held, followed by a report to Council. The public will be notified once more details are available.

How an organics collection program would benefit Winnipeg?

A curbside organics program would have several significant benefits to our environment and to our community for generations to come. Organic waste is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions from our landfill.

A recent waste audit showed:

  • only about 16% of what we throw in our garbage carts is actual garbage
  • more than a quarter belongs in our recycling carts
  • more than half could be composted

A curbside organics cart program would:

  • reduce the amount organic material going into our landfill
  • reduce greenhouse gasses and leachate production
  • increase our waste diversion rate
  • increase the lifespan of the Brady Road Resource Management Facility
  • produce nutrient-rich compost

Even though the current lifespan of Brady is about 100 years, developing new landfills is an incredibly difficult and expensive process, and closed landfills still need to be monitored regularly.

A curbside organics cart collection program is the key to reach our goal of keeping half of our garbage out of the landfill, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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What kinds of materials would be collected?

More than half of what we throw away can be composted, and organics are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions from our landfill. A curbside organics cart collection program is necessary to reach our goal of keeping half of our garbage out of the landfill, as well as to meet provincial greenhouse gas emission targets.

An organics collection program could include all vegetative food waste (fruit and vegetable scraps), meat, fat, dairy, compostable containers and pet waste.

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Do other cities do this?

Most major Canadian cities have an organics collection program, including Victoria, Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Edmonton, Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

The costs for Winnipeg’s program would be comparable, and in some cases more affordable, than similar programs in other cities.

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What about smell?

Liners or paper can be used to keep organics carts clean and reduce odour by preventing food waste from sticking to the sides of the container. Indoors, liners or newspaper can also be used in the compost pail or “kitchen catcher.”

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Isn’t backyard composting enough?

Data from across Canada makes it clear that backyard composting alone is insufficient to divert a majority of organic material from landfill, and to reach our 50% waste diversion target.

Depending on the service option chosen, a curbside program could collect a greater variety of compostable material, including foods that cannot easily be composted in a backyard composter such as meat scraps, bones, dairy, cooked foods and fats, and pet waste.

If you already compost in your back yard, you can continue to do so. Simply use the curbside cart for materials you cannot compost in your back yard.

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Why should we keep organic material out of the landfill?

You may think when food and yard waste goes in the landfill that it breaks down quickly and becomes a part of the soil, but that’s not what happens. Most food and yard material like grass clippings and apple cores actually stays almost the same, taking up space even after many years.

It doesn’t break down because food and yard waste needs oxygen. In a landfill, these materials are buried under other garbage, and the food and yard waste then stays in an airless environment.

When the food and yard waste gets no air, it can take decades to break down. It also puts a lot of methane into the atmosphere, which is a strong greenhouse gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. This waste also creates garbage fluids called leachate, which we have to collect and treat under strict environmental regulations.

When we compost food and yard waste, we pile it into rows and blend in wood and straw. We also use large machines to turn the piles to add oxygen and move heat. The sun, air and micro-organisms break down the waste in a few months instead of many years.

By using your green cart or composting in your backyard, you reduce the amount of food and yard waste going to landfills, and reduce the amount of methane produced. As a result, we can make progress towards our goal of reducing Winnipeg’s greenhouse gases. 

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Would there be a pilot/trial prior to a city-wide program?

Yes. Any new curbside composting program would reflect the input we receive from Winnipeggers. The first operational step in implementing curbside pickup would be conducting a pilot to find out what’s working and what isn’t before any type of city-wide program moves forward.

As with any new city-wide initiative of this scale, we would expect there to be some issues and challenges during the early stages of the program. A pilot would allow us to identify those challenges and address them.

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What is the status of the Garbage and Recycling Master Plan?

We assess our programs annually and submit a report to Council on the status of the master plan. We also track our progress by comparing the amount of garbage, recycling, and yard waste we collect every year.

As part of the master plan, a Waste and Diversion Advisory Committee was created, comprised of knowledgeable, environmentally conscious volunteer citizens, to provide advice and recommendations for the completion, implementation, and continual improvement of the Garbage and Recycling Master Plan.