All About Calgary’s Green Cart Food and Waste Program

Calgary’s Green Cart Food and Waste Program Compost Featured ImageThose living in the Calgary area are fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of the city’s Green Cart Food and Yard Waste program. Through this program, organic waste is collected and brought to a processing plant where it becomes compost. The program is easy to follow, but it does require a bit of a shift in your thinking. Learn more about the program and how to do your part.

Why Recycle Food Waste

As you know, household trash taken to the local landfill is not sorted, recycled or composted. Even the most environmentally-conscious Calgarians can produce a lot of garbage. Recycling paper, cardboard and plastic has definitely helped, but there’s still a lot of waste that goes into landfills. The Green Cart program is changing this.

The families who participated in the Green Cart pilot program saw a 50 percent reduction in their garbage. When all of Calgary participates in the program, we estimate we’ll be able to keep around 85 million kilograms of waste out of the landfills. 

The Green Cart program has an additional positive effect. It turns the waste into compost we can then use to nourish plant life. 

Calgary’s Green Cart Food and Waste Program Bins ImageHow It Works

Single-family homes will get a large green bin used for both food and yard waste. Multi-family homes and apartment complexes will likely have multiple bins placed in the same areas where residents bring their garbage and recycling. The condo board or property manager will develop a plan to make this work for their communities.

Inside their homes, families collect all food waste in a container with a tight lid. In the past, certain types of foods – meats, bones, starches, and dairy products – were not allowed to go into the compost pile, but these rules have changed. You can now put all food waste into the Green Cart. You can also put in food-soiled paper products like paper plates or paper towels. When your bucket is full, you bring it out to the Green Cart and empty it.

What Happens at the Facility

When the food and yard waste gets to the composting facility, it’s put through a shredder. This speeds up the decomposition process. The waste is directed into large composting bins that are carefully monitored for temperature and moisture to produce an ideal environment for composting. This helps the process along and eliminates harmful pathogens like E. coli. After that, the compost is screened and cooled down before it can be used. The entire composting process takes about 60 days. 

What You’ll Need

You’ll need a Green Cart bin for outside collection. Most single-family homes already have this bin, but if you haven’t received yours yet, please contact the program. If you don’t have Green Cart bins in your condo or apartment community, contact your condo board or property manager.

You’ll also need a collection bin for inside the home. The Green Cart program provides kitchen pails, but you can purchase your own or use anything you have on hand. It’s important to choose a container that has a lid to reduce the smell.
Most people also use a biodegradable liner for their kitchen pail. This keeps it clean so you don’t have to wash it. If you don’t want to spend the money on this convenience, you’ll probably want to wash the pail after you empty the contents into the outdoor bin.

What the Green Cart Means for Condo Owners

Since you may be bringing your food waste through shared hallways and into elevators, you may want to take more care when selecting an indoor container. For instance, you may want one that has a handle so you can easily carry it out without worrying about drips. If you’ll be removing a liner bag to bring it out to the bins, make sure you choose a compostable bag that’s strong so it doesn’t break or leak during your trip.

The good news is condo owners won’t have to worry about handling the yard waste. The maintenance team that handles landscaping will properly dispose of yard waste in the Green Cart bins.

The Green Cart program is good for Calgary. Do your part to help improve the local environment.

Photo credits: compost, bins