The City of Windsor in Ontario produces around 55,000 tonnes of residential garbage that gets sent to landfills every year, of which about 16,500 tonnes of that is organic material. The city decided to set a 2025 deadline where it will start curbside collection of residents’ food scraps and other organic wastes as part of the provincial mandate. What makes this this deadline challenging is that Windsor does not currently own a facility that can process the thousands of tonnes of banana peels, apple cores and other organic wastes the garbage trucks would pick up.
Possible solutions to address this problem range from simply trucking all the wastes out of town to building a complex high-tech facility that converts the organic materials into valuable renewable gas and/or fertilizer. Both options come at considerable cost.
Stacey McGuire, an engineer at the city who is managing the project, believes that they should explore all the opportunities available for dealing with the organic wastes so the city council on Monday approved funds for hiring a consultant. They hired GHD Limited to study the data and recommend the best route to take going forward.
The Waste Free Ontario Act stipulates that bigger municipalities like Windsor need to divert 70 per cent of its organic wastes and initiate curbside collection. This spares smaller municipalities from such onerous requirements, either excusing them from required waste diversion and curbside collection, or only requiring them to do 50 percent diversion and collection. The Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority’s board, which manages the regional landfill, recently approved a regional approach to managing organic wastes.
Putting organics in landfills produces methane gas as they breakdown causing an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Diverting these organic wastes can help with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increases the landfill’s lifespan.
Both Windsor and London are the only two remaining large Ontario municipalities that have yet to do curbside collection of organics.
Anne-Marie Albidone, Windsor’s Manager of Environmental Services, believes that the time has come for the city to begin organic wastes diversion and collection. Windsor has been slow to adopt these changes not only because of the prohibitive startup costs, but because there is a lack of urgency to do so due to their landfills not being as filled up as other places in the province.
Albidone said that residents will experience a simple and straightforward process. Each household will be provided with a hard-sided container for collecting their organic material with. This includes kitchen scraps, soiled disposable diapers, pet poop, and compostable packaging like compostable K-pods. If Windsor follows what happens everywhere else in Ontario, it’s likely that the organics will be collected weekly, with non-organic waste collected every two weeks. Albidone also encourages people who do backyard composting to continue doing so.
GHD Limited is expected to come up with recommendations in early 2021 on which process is ideal for this region. They are exploring what to do with the biosolid waste products from the city’s sewage treatment plants. The Windsor Biosolids Processing Facility converts the biosolids into Class A fertilizer, but the contract for their operations expires in 2029. GHD is studying whether both organic wastes and biosolids should be processed together at the same facility.
If you are a municipality in Ontario and in need of a biosolids management solution, please feel free to contact us at 1 (877) 479-1388.