Airdrie residents can now put pet waste in their residential organics recycling carts. The City began accepting pet waste in the green bins April 1.
“When we went out for request for proposal (RFP) – because the contract for processing was up – we specifically stipulated that one of the items we wanted to be acceptable within the program was pet waste,” said Susan Grimm, team leader, City of Airdrie Waste and Recycling Services. “From the get-go, that was our intention from this contract.”
According to Grimm, requests from residents for a pet waste program helped drive the decision. There is also an economic benefit because the cost to dispose of materials in organics recycling is 50 per cent less than disposing of it at a landfill.
Grimm said the same service provider the City previously used was the successful winner of the new contract. There is no additional cost to include pet waste in the program.
“They made modifications on their processing end to be able to accept this material,” she said.
Residents have indicated they would like the program expanded to include pet waste since the organics program launched in 2014, according to Grimm. A pilot project was conducted from June 15 to July 31, 2015, but the service provider was not able to accept pet waste at that time because of a fear of parasites entering the system.
Acceptable pet waste includes pet feces, cat litter and pet bedding such as wood shavings. Grimm said it’s up to residents to decide whether they use a bag to dispose of the pet waste or place it directly in the green bin. She said concerns about smell can be mitigated by utilizing a bag.
“It’s the same as when we started the organics program – we’re not putting any different waste, we’re just putting it in a different place,” she said. “We are obviously strongly suggesting that residents use the compostable bag or the paper leaf and yard waste bag to contain their pet waste. Ultimately, it’s the residents’ responsibility to maintain that bin and keep it clean.”
Waste and Recycling Services is keeping a close eye on Airdrie’s recycling programs, according to Grimm.
“We have been doing a series of waste audits on residential garbage. We’ve done two so far and the third is slated to be done August/September of this upcoming year,” she said. “What we did find in both of those audits, consistently, is that 12 per cent of what is in the residential waste is pet waste, so this is hopefully going to be huge in diverting that material from the landfill.”
According to Grimm, the December 2017 audit showed what residents throw out is 46 per cent waste, 32 per cent recycling and 23 per cent organics. But there is room for improvement.
“When we further look at what is in our waste that can still be diverted, 48 per cent of what is in the garbage is actually garbage – (12 per cent of this is pet waste), 35 per cent of what is in our garbage is organic material and 17 per cent is either depot or blue-cart recycling,” she said.
Grimm said any questions about the program can be directed to Waste and Recycling at 403-948-0246 or residents can visit airdrie.ca/petwaste for more information.