Is London inching closer to a ‘green bin’ compost-collection system? – The London Free Press

It was one of the last big cities in Ontario implement blue box recycling nearly three decades ago.

Now, London is the largest city in the province without a green bin program to keep organic waste out of the dump.

And the city’s landfill is running out of space.

After many rounds of debate about the merits and costs of collecting food waste at the curb, politicians inched closer Tuesday to backing a compost system, expected to cost about $5 million a year to operate.

“While there’s a fiscal responsibility, there’s also moral and environmental responsibility that this municipality has,” said Coun. Stephen Turner.

Council’s civic works committee stopped short of endorsing a staff recommendation to introduce weekly green bin collection and pull back garbage pickup to every two weeks. The politicians instead gave a nod to the next stage of public consultation for London’s “waste diversion strategy.”

London diverts about 45 per cent of its waste from the dump – the Ontario average is 49 per cent – and council has committed to reaching 60 per cent by 2022.

Staff outlined a plan to get there, including weekly green bin collection and a number of pilot projects to increase recycling and experiment with other organics program.

But not everyone is on board.

Coun. Michael van Holst suggested the operating cost to pick up compost could be better spent elsewhere, such as improving social housing stock, while London waits for “better technologies” to deal with organic waste.

But Londoners seem ready to embrace green bins. In an online survey conducted for city hall by Ipsos, more than three quarters of residents said they’d be willing to pay for a city-run compost program. The largest percentage, close to half of the 300 respondents, was willing to fork over up to $25 each year.

A green bin system is likely to cost between $22 and $30 a household, according to city hall projections.

And it’s going to take buy-in from London residents, city hall’s waste and environment boss told politicians. Right now, single-family homes keep about half of their waste out of the dump. In apartment and condo buildings, the rate is much lower, about 18 per cent.

The success of the waste diversion strategy will be determined by how committed Londoners are to putting their organic waste in the green bin and buckling down on their own efforts to reduce waste, Jay Stanford said, noting that $80 to $100 million worth of food is thrown out every year.

“There is a lot of dough placed into the garbage bag.”