condo compost capers

The city of Whitehorse has taken over from Raven Recycling the operation of the composting facility up at the landfill. They have invested in some new equipment such as a large compost pile turner and a mechanized screen.

The city of Whitehorse has taken over from Raven Recycling the operation of the composting facility up at the landfill.

They have invested in some new equipment such as a large compost pile turner and a mechanized screen.

This will enhance the quality control of the compost facility and produce a more marketable product than was being produced before.

Combine that with the green cart pickup program whereby the city collects compost from householders and everyone is happy.

Well, not quite.

The apartment dwellers of Whitehorse have been excluded.

In the interests of full disclosure, it must be mentioned that this particular columnist resides in this type of accommodation.

Due to an accident of history, the city provides garbage collection to urban residential households within city limits, not to condo complexes and apartments.

This has traditionally been done by private companies.

In the past this made sense.

The city has mid-size garbage trucks suitable for either flinging bags of garbage into the back by hand, as was done in the past or, through the use of a small hydraulic side lift, for picking up the wheeled garbage bins everyone now uses.

Apartment blocks have the big dumpsters for which a truck with overhead hydraulic forks is required.

The private garbage haulers have these large vehicles and the dumpsters and therefore they pick up garbage from apartment blocks.

Then the city started picking up compost from households and the rotten fruit hit the fan.

Apartment blocks were not getting in on the composting craze.

Compost and garbage are two separate things, and require two separate containers.

They also need to be picked up separately so that the garbage does not contaminate the compost.

The city, giving credit where credit is due, have come up with a pretty good solution.

Each household gets a grey garbage cart, and a green compost cart.

But not condo and apartment dwellers.

They are still stuck with their single garbage dumpster from the private companies.

The haulers who do empty the apartment and condo dumpsters do not offer a compost pickup.

Now some smaller firms do provide, for a fee, recycling pickups.

They provide separate bins for different types of paper and plastics, empty the bins on a regular basis and take the recyclables down to Raven.

This service does not seem to be offered for compost, although if there is a company out there that does offer it, please contact this columnist.

Part of the reason is probably the distance involved.

All recyclables can be dropped off at Raven, but a separate trip is required to take it to the composting facility up at the city landfill.

Backyard composting requires the obvious, a backyard.

Not all apartments and condo complexes have the room to start their own backyard composting operations.

There are also issues over which tenant would maintain the compost pile.

Given the density of units some residents would not necessarily appreciate the smells of the compost pile.

This means that condo and apartment dwellers are not participating in the city compost program.

Some of these individuals do drop their compost off at the city landfill, but not everyone is so dedicated or has a vehicle.

Others practise worm composting.

A few red wrigglers placed in a large plastic storage box will easily demolish fruit and vegetable scraps.

Fruit flies can be an issue, though, and the worms are not great with meat, dairy products and citrus fruits.

For these reasons, worm composting is only practised by a dedicated few.

The end result is that a lot of potentially compostable material from apartments and condos is going into garbage dumpsters when it could be composted instead.

The obvious solution is for the city to offer compost pickup to condo complexes and apartment blocks.

Yes, there would have to be some form of billing system implemented.

Householders pay for garbage and compost pickup, and should the system expand so should condo dwellers.

Given the economies of scale, and the fact that virtually no new equipment would have to be purchased, apart from a few more wheelie bins, it should be most affordable.

Whitehorse prides itself on trying to be a sustainable city.

Part of this should include offering compost collection to those who live in apartment complexes and condominiums.

Lewis Rifkind is a Whitehorse-based, part-time, condo-composting (he sneaks it into a neighbouring household green compost bin for pickup by the city) environmentalist.