September 15, 2017
Recommendations for Action
Using city of Ottawa and provincial data, a review by Waste Watch Ottawa of the city’s residential recycling and green bin programs shows that they are performing poorly with low levels of waste diversion from disposal compared to other large municipalities in Ontario.
Based on the city’s numbers, as reported to the provincial Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA), Ottawa diverted only 42.5% of its waste in 2015, a rate below the provincial average of 47.7% and well behind leading municipalities which are achieving rates of over 50% with best performers diverting over 60%. In a possibly worrying sign, the RPRA reports also showed that Ottawa’s 2015 rate of waste diversion had fallen from the 45% level of 2014 and the tonnages of waste going to disposal are increasing.
April 19, 2020
Prepared for Waste Watch Ottawa
A Comparative Analysis of Ottawa’s Residential Organic Waste Management System
Prepared By: Sara Hélène Dubé, Geniffer Emmanuel, Michael Hosken, and Edward O’Dea
University of Ottawa – MSc. Environmental Sustainability Capstone Project
“Waste Watch Ottawa (WWO) has asked our team to research the effectiveness of Ottawa’s residential organics waste management system compared to that of other Canadian cities, with a focus on the impact of plastics and dog waste on compost quality. First, in Part 1 background information is provided on the science and benefits of processing organic waste, as well as on implications and consequences of poor organic waste diversion. Organic matter can become compost through two main processes: aerobic or anaerobic digestion. The end-product can enrich soils if it is of good quality or pose environmental and health risks if it is not. Plastics (biodegradable or not) and dog waste are examples of threats to compost quality. Moreover, we explain that properly composting organic waste can reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
“Second, the federal, provincial, and municipal policies that guide the city of Ottawa’s residential waste management system are presented in Part 2. Among other important laws and policies, the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s Compost Quality Standards which distinguish between AA, A, and B quality are explained. The City of Ottawa’s current residential waste management system is described in Part 3, including the 2018 decision to allow plastics and dog wastes in the Green Bin. This section also includes a discussion of statistics regarding Ottawa’s organics diversion rate, with a visual representation. The main conclusion is that Ottawa now produces a type of compost called non-agricultural source materials (NASM), which is quality B, and that Ottawa’s overall organic diversion rate is lower than the other cities that we researched.
“Part 4, presents the waste diversion strategies of five other Canadian cities. For each city under review, qualitative and quantitative data are presented as well as best practices as described in the Data Sources and Methods section of the report. The key findings for each city are as follows: Guelph and Waterloo produce AA compost while allowing compostable plastics and dog waste. Toronto also produces AA and A compost, while allowing any kind of plastic as well as dog waste. Halifax produces A quality compost but does not allow plastics or dog waste. Meanwhile, Metro Vancouver does not accept plastics or dog waste in its organic waste processing facilities, and compost quality varies across that region.
Lastly, conclusions, key gaps, challenges, opportunities, and associated recommendations are presented for Ottawa’s residential organic waste management program, in Part 5. The key recommendations are framed in terms of the “zero waste hierarchy” and support WWO’s 6 Point Waste Management and Diversion Strategy. Strategies to avoid contaminating compost with plastics and dog waste are presented, as well as incentives to follow regulations, keep organics out of landfills, increase outreach and education initiatives and increase participation in Ottawa’s Green Bin Program.
“As The City of Ottawa is currently updating its Solid Waste Master Plan, this report comes at a crucial time. The report will contribute to informing the actions of the city on how to divert organic waste effectively to reduce GHG emissions and to extend the expected lifespan of the Trail Road landfill site. With the information from this report, WWO will be better equipped to advocate for evidence-informed improvements to Ottawa’s residential organic waste management system.”
June 25, 2019
By Waste Watch Ottawa
“A user pay program would provide direct financial incentives to householders to reduce their dependence on the garbage collection system and improve participation in recycling and organics programs. The user pay program would be financed by fees payable on garbage bags or carts. Under a user pay program for Ottawa all recycling and organics collection would continue to be provided at no direct cost to the householder and would continue to be funded through property taxes. In user pay systems municipalities fund their waste management programs more along the lines of a utility with residents required to pay directly, in whole or in part, for the waste management services that they actually consume. User pay waste systems operate much like other municipal utilities such as water where consumption is measured and residents are invoiced based on the water used. Similarly hydro and gas services are paid for based on the level of consumption.”
May 17, 2021
WWO Presentation to the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water, and Waste Management (EPWWM) of Ottawa
An excerpt from the speech:
“Waste Watch Ottawa continues to have concerns about the quality of the compost being produced by the program. While the addition of plastic bin liners may have had some small impact on participation it has at the same time created a processing challenge and new costs. The bags have to be removed and recovering all of the plastics is next to impossible. The report states that in January 2021 that plastics of more than 2.8 mm in size – the quality standard – represented only 0.11 % of the compost produced at the plant. This sounds like a small number but over the total 85,000 tonnes of organics delivered it could translate to approximately 90 tonnes of plastic bits in the completed compost. Looked at another way, and using us EPA weight to volume estimates, these 90 tonnes is equivalent to around 5,500 cu yds of loose plastic LDPE film, grocery and garbage bags. Surely, we can do better.”