Regina begins inexperienced bin pilot mission

The green bins being used in a pilot project for the City of Regina’s food and yard waste collection program. (Britton Gray/980 CJME file photo)

The City of Regina’s next green step towards sustainability begins with the rollout of some bins of the same colour.

The city is beginning its green bin food and yard waste program pilot project. About 2,800 homes throughout Regina have received green bins and a kitchen catcher, into which they can put food before tossing it into the bin.

“Residents are very excited about this program,” said Kurtis Doney, the city’s director of water, waste and environment.

“We’re doing a one-year pilot to determine what is going to work for the City of Regina and the processing side of things will be complex once we get to the city-wide rollout (in 2023) so we need to determine how we can best operate and maintain a processing site for the food and yard waste program.”

People can put a wide variety of food — including meat and fish — as well as yard waste and other biodegradable waste into the bins.

“This is a scrape-the-plate program so everything on your plate can go into the kitchen catcher and ultimately into your food and yard waste bin,” Doney said.

Plastic bags, including those that are certified compostable or biodegradable, are not accepted.

The pilot project is designed to test out which is the most efficient way to run the program in Regina. It includes three different-sized bins — 120 litres, 240 litres and 360 litres — and determining how well the program works with Regina’s frigid winters.

“That’s one of the things we’ll learn throughout the pilot. We inject (the material) with air to ensure it’s composting,” Doney said.

The green bins will be picked up weekly while garbage pickup will be moved to bi-weekly.

“With food and yard waste no longer in the brown carts, there’s no longer a need to pick up the brown carts on a weekly basis in the summer,” Doney said.

Once the waste has been collected, it will be taken to a composting facility to be processed.

“If the compost is high quality, we plan to give it back to pilot participants and offer any remaining to the general public or use it in the city parks,” Doney said.

The facility also allows the material’s collectors to break down things like meat.

“That’s one unique thing about composting at this facility is that the heat is high enough and strong enough to break down that kind of material that typically isn’t successful in your backyard,” Doney said.

Mayor Michael Fougere said he believes Regina is one of the last cities of its size to implement a program like this.

“I think Regina residents are aware of this and would like to see this happen so we have been very methodical in terms of how how we roll this out,” Fougere said.

The city said the project is a step towards city council’s goal of diverting 65 per cent of residential waste from the landfill.

“This is one sliver of a much larger discussion on sustainability for our community and that doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time to do that,” Fougere said. “We do need to, in some ways, catch up in what’s happening but also be a leader as well in how we actually do this.”

The city approved $3.5 million for the pilot project’s planning and execution.

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