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Green Bin Results
11/03/2005

Today's Toronto Star reports that the stuff we are putting into our green bins is ending up like this:

  • 25% becomes compost
  • 32% goes into the sewer system
  • 18% becomes methane gas, which is being burned off
  • 25% is going to the landfill in Michigan

These numbers are causing some people to freak out at City Hall.

The Star quotes Public school Trustee Josh Matlow (Ward 11, St. Paul's), who is also campaign director of the Earthroots environmental group, as saying he is "shocked" by the results. He says, "If 100 per cent of this is not becoming compost, then the public needs to know why." This seems a bit clueless to me.

Of course 25% of the stuff is going to landfill in Michigan. People are allowed to put things like diapers in there, and the process only recovers the compostable portions. Then there are all the plastic bags, as well as the things thrown in by people who don't understand the rules. One day I walked by a green bin that was full to the top with pop cans!

As for the amount going into the sewer... well, maybe you've noticed that some food has water in it. And methane gas is a natural byproduct of the breakdown of organic materials. If you've ever composted in your backyard, you'll know that you end up with less stuff than you put in.

When the system is expanded, it will be economical to produce electricity from the burned-off methane. For now it is going to waste, and that's too bad.

Overall, however, this system is removing a lot of matter from a system that would otherwise involve trucking it to Michigan and dumping it in their landfill. Diversion was the goal and it is being acheived.


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