By Chad Ingram
Algonquin Highlands council is planning to launch an organic waste diversion pilot project it hopes will encourage more residents to compost at home.
During a Feb. 4 online meeting, councillors received a report on a device called the Food Cycler from environmental co-ordinator Melissa Murray.
As a report from Murray read, “Diversion of organic waste from landfills in an important component in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the waste sector and achieving the goal of a zero-waste future. Ontario’s waste stream is comprised of approximately 32 per cent organic waste.”
Organic waste that is landfilled is more environmentally damaging since buried organic waste produces much more methane than waste that is composted.
“The Province of Ontario has identified keeping food and organic waste out of the disposal stream as a high priority for the province,” Murray’s report read. “The County of Haliburton corporate climate change mitigation plan included reducing and diverting organic waste from landfills as one of its four goals.”
Nearly 80 per cent of the greenhouse gases produced by township-owned assets in Algonquin Highlands come from its landfills.
Enter the Food Cycler, a countertop device about the size of a bread machine that speeds up the natural decomposition process, grinding and drying up food waste and turning it into a “dry, odourless nutrient-dense by-product that is significantly reduced in weight and volume from its unprocessed state,” Murray’s report read. “The end product is free from bacteria, and weed seeds and food-borne pathogens.”
“This is to generate interest, and generate discussion,” Murray told councillors, as she gave them a demonstration of the device during the Zoom-based meeting. “As soon as anybody tries it, they’re like, ‘I want one.’”
The machine’s cycle takes about four to six hours, and the process is quiet and odourless.
The proposal was for the township to provide a subsidy to residents to purchase the devices, in order to incentivize composting at home.
“I didn’t think there would ever be a silver bullet to the problem of composting in bear country,” said Councillor Jennifer Dailloux, adding she thought a number of residents in Ward 3 would be interested. “I’m game for really trying this out.”
The pilot project would be one aspect of a larger, organic waste diversion program. With a municipal subsidy of $50, the cost for residents would be $200, plus taxes and shipping, Murray’s report indicated.
Mayor Carol Moffatt noted this price point would still put the devices out of reach for some residents.
Councillors were in favour of the pilot project, requesting more details about bulk purchasing and subsidy options come back to the council table.