Getting the Dirt on Saskatchewan Composting

Getting the Dirt on Saskatchewan Composting

Statistics Canada reports that, while 61 per cent of Canadian households participate in some type of composting, only 47 per cent of Saskatchewan households do, putting us among the lowest in the country. Compostable materials make up between 30 and 50 percent of the waste stream, so focusing on these materials could yield significant waste diversion results. In addition to saving landfill space and reducing greenhouse gases, composting also generates a valuable soil amendment that can be used in landscaping and agricultural applications.

Taking Home Composting out for a Spin

Residents and businesses that handle their organic waste on site contribute significantly to waste reduction. One household alone can reduce 250-350 kilograms of waste every year with a backyard compost.

When we picture a back yard compost, we often visualize a black plastic bin. In reality, there are many types of on-site compost systems. SWRC’s Digging the Dirt Project is designed to generate a new vision of home composting.  For the next year, volunteers will be testing more than twenty different types of composting systems, from the ubiquitous black plastic bin to tumbling bins to three-chamber systems to indoor operations. They will record information about set-up, ease of use, quantity of materials and more, building a case study for each composting system that will summarize its pros and cons and outline what household type it is best suited for. Funded jointly by the Cities of Saskatoon and Regina, the project aims to provide data that can be used to get the message out about the variety of composting options and to encourage people to re-visualize home composting and perhaps give it a try.

Digging deeper with large-scale composting

Municipal composting has a presence in the province. Our database lists 130 composting programs of some type across Saskatchewan. Saskatoon and Regina are actively working on it. Saskatoon has had depots for yard waste for more than a decade, Regina is piloting seasonal depots this year. Subscription programs for curbside pickup of yard waste are running in both cities (run publicly in Saskatoon and privately in Regina). Both cities have curbside organics collection on their planning agendas.

It’s the other cities that lack composting programs. Our database (and we would love to be corrected) lists no options for residential composting in Swift Current, Moose Jaw, Estevan, Yorkton, Martensville, Humboldt, Melville or Melfort. Some of these communities have had wonderful programs in the past that, for various reasons, died. It might be time to take another look ...

Composting isn’t rocket science, once you know the fundamentals. Larger-scale composting uses the same basics, but with a few more challenges around collecting materials, siting and managing larger quantities. Our Composting Field Day, held May 15 in Saskatoon, gave participants the opportunity to check out operating composting systems, see the building of a static aerated pile and review some of those fundamentals. We hope to be able to offer Field Days once a year to help municipalities and institutions develop the capacity to take on organic waste.