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We often hear about the importance of composting our food waste and organic matter, but do you know why it’s so essential to compost? And more importantly, is it worth the trouble of having to deal with the inconveniences of a brown bin in the summer?!
WHY WE ALL NEED TO GET IN THE HABIT
To paint a picture, organic matter makes up 47% of household waste. This means that almost half of all residual materials generated can end up in the brown bin. However, the Stratégie de valorisation de la matière organique implemented by the Quebec government plans to “recycle or reclaim 70% of organic matter” by 2030 i. To achieve these goals, everyone must participate, even throughout the summer. You may be wondering why your food or organic waste is so important? Well, there are several reasons.
THE UGLY TRUTH ABOUT ORGANIC WASTE
Unlike other forms of collection, organic waste collection is transformed into a nutrient-rich “product”. This product is compost, a “mature solid product resulting from the composting of organic waste”, and it has great value! ii. In some cities/municipalities, it is partly redistributed to citizens. Ask your municipality about it, perhaps you can request some for your plants and/or vegetable garden.
In addition to obtaining compost, your participation in the collection of organic matter has several environmental and social benefits. First of all, organic waste, when buried in landfills, releases significant amounts of gas.
Indeed, being made up of living matter, organic matter decomposes without oxygen when it is buried under inorganic waste, and this process of decomposition releases gases that contribute to greenhouse gases. The main gas emitted is methane (CH4) and it is 21 to 25 times more toxic for our planet than the notorious CO2 we’ve all heard so much about. In addition to the exponential damage it causes to the atmosphere, burying organic matter contributes to soil contamination and water pollution as well.
Another concern is that Quebec’s only landfill in the Montreal area may reach its maximum capacity by 2029. This means that beyond 2029, another landfill will have to be built to handle the metropolitan area’s waste iii. If everyone participates in the collection of organic waste, it will reduce the overflow of landfill sites by up to 47%. In the medium term, you directly avoid the possibility of another landfill being developed in our backyards. And you can imagine the negative consequences for people living near a landfill: foul odour, anxiety, noise and pests are just the beginning iv.
BROWN BIN SUMMER MAINTENANCE GUIDE
Circling back to summer composting practices, we thought it might be helpful to teach you basic maintenance and upkeep to make it the process more manageable. Here’s your summer maintenance guide:
• Keep your brown bin in a shaded area to keep it from heating up.
• It’s recommended that you keep fats, bones, meat and fish scraps in your freezer (in a small bin or wrapped in a sheet of newspaper) and only take them out the morning of the scheduled collection.
• Each week, bring out your bin no matter how little organic waste you stored over the week.
• Baking soda and limestone are substances that can help reduce the stench from organic waste. You can sprinkle them regularly in your bin.
• Don’t forget to occasionally rinse your brown bin with water and vinegar or a mild biodegradable soap to remove any built-up residue.
Now you know why, even if it’s tempting to neglect your food/organic waste bin in favour of the trash in the summer, you have every reason to stick to your regular routine. And don’t hesitate to share your tips and tricks with family, friends and neighbours. Who knows, maybe you have a miracle solution ?
Resources (in French)
- [i] Stratégie de valorisation de la matière organique, Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (2020)
- [ii] Matières organiques,Recyc-Québec (2018)
- [iii] La plus grosse poubelle du Québec bientôt pleine, La Presse (2019)
- [iv] Impacts pour la santé reliés aux lieux d’enfouissement technique, AECOM Tecsult INC (2010)
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