Single-family homes in the downtown core will get curbside compost collection this month.

The City of Yellowknife will deliver green carts to nearly 900 houses, completing the four-year roll-out of its compost collection program.

NNSL file photo
Diverting organic waste away from the dump will reduce the amount of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – entering the atmosphere and extend the landfill’s lifetime, says the city.

With the arrival of downtown green carts, we are taking the next step in dealing with our garbage responsibly,” Mayor Mark Heyck said in a statement Friday.

There are numerous benefits to a centralized composting system, according to the city.

For one, locally-generated compost can be used in gardens across Yellowknife and will hopefully lead to greater local food production.

For another, diverting compost from the dump will lengthen the lifespan of the landfill.

The city said its composting program has the potential to reduce waste headed to the landfill by up to 26 per cent.

The average single-family home in Yellowknife produces 185 kg of organic waste per year, according to a 2007 study of waste composition in Yellowknife.

Excluding downtown, the city collects over 11,000 kg of compost per pickup.

Composting also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, explained Dawn Tremblay, Ecology North’s compost specialist.

Organic waste breaks down “really, really slowly” in the landfill and when it does finally decompose, it produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas that is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100 year period, she said.

Composting combines food scraps with air and leaves, shredded paper or woodchips to prevent the release of methane gas.

A lot of people don’t realize that by putting food scraps in the landfill, you are polluting,” said Trembaly.

The Yellowknife composting program allows residents to compost meat, dairy, bread and other items that might attract animals or not easily breakdown in backyard compost heaps.

Tremblay encourages residents to use only compostable bags or newspaper to line their kitchen bins.

When non-compostable items, such as plastic bags and diapers, are found among organic waste, compost workers have to go in and pull those materials out by hand.

Whitehorse, Moncton, Toronto and Edmonton,are among the many cities in Canada that already have municipal composting programs.

Small bins for the kitchen and information packages will be left on downtown doorsteps between Oct. 18 and 20 and the outdoor, 120-litre green carts will be delivered on Oct. 25 and 26.

The first compost pickup date is set for Nov. 7.

The city is looking at at expanding the program next to multi-family homes and apartment buildings.

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