It's not easy being green: carts on way to Okotoks residents

Posted by on Thursday, September 8th, 2016 at 2:38pm.

Ready or not, Okotoks residents are about to add a green cart to their back alley line up of black and blue carts.  Whether they like it or not.

The Town of Okotoks is on its way with green carts for all single-family home owners in town, scheduled to be delivered throughout September.  Green carts, which have been piloted in Calgary and used in other Canadian municipalities, are for organic waste material.  Residents will get a list of acceptable waste for the green cart.  Collection should start the week after October 2.

Those home owners who have not yet opted-in to the program and received their blue cart for recycling will also get that cart.  The town’s chief administration officer believes that 30% of Okotoks single-family home owners aren’t using the municipal blue cart system.  Nancy Weigel says that it’s not unusual for new programs to catch on.

There has been some reticence about the program as some Okotoks residents believe three carts to haul to the curb or the back alley is just too much.  There is a small fee the property owners have to pay for the service and some people believe the recycling program in particular should be used and paid for by cart users.  Some home owners who are finding that aggressive deer are a problem at this time of year, are concerned that green carts full of delicious, edible kitchen scraps will actually attract more deer.  However, the material placed in the green cart is the same material that’s kept in the black cart, but those people who are concerned can line the bottom of their cart with newspaper to reduce odours.

No Fee for Green Carts

To make the composting program more palatable, the town is not imposing an additional fee for the new green carts.  The fee for the blue cart program, which is not non-negotiable, is $7.25 a month which is on resident’s utility bill along with $20.50 for garbage collection.

Why This is Important

The Town of Okotoks is counting on as much participation from residents as possible as part of its 80/20 plan.  The goal is to have 80% of potential waste products, including recyclables and organic materials saved from the landfill by the year 2020.  Since so much of what is thrown away is organic material such as kitchen scraps and yard waste, the town believes this is an achievable goal.  Town administration is trying to do its part for the environment, but there are financial considerations as well.  If they can use the same landfill site for years to come by reducing the amount of garbage, the town won’t have to find another site for some time which will save the taxpayers money in the long run.

Okotoks is just one of many Alberta municipalities placing a priority on extending the life of landfill sites and collecting organic waste through a green cart program.  The City of Calgary conducted a four-year pilot project in select communities and will start the green cart program in earnest in 2017.

What is Accepted in a Green Cart

  • Food, raw and cooked
  • Bones
  • Paper soiled with food
  • Coffee grounds with paper and tea bags
  • Pet hair
  • Animal waste and kitty litter in compostable bags
  • Leaves, plants and weeds
  • Grass clippings (although its recommended grass clippings be left on the lawn)

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