Breaking Down Municipal Composting in SK - 2009 Survey

Wheatland Regional CentreIn the summer of 2009, we contacted all Saskatchewan communities and RMs to find out what they recycled - or composted. Here are the results of the composting portion of our survey.

As of the end of the summer, 106 Saskatchewan municipalities had access to some sort of composting program.

All of the programs accept leaves and grass and most accept garden materials. Fifteen communities expressly include kitchen scraps, but most of these specify no meat, bones, dairy or fats. These latter materials, while technically compostable, are the ones that can lead to odour and pest problems. Many programs also expressly exclude branches and wood, as these compost extremely slowly unless they are chipped first.

Most of the compost sites are located at or close to a landfill or transfer station. Residents are asked to drop off their materials during the times the site is open. Seventeen communities offer some type of pickup service in the summer months. Saskatoon and Davidson charge a fee for optional compost pickup, but the rest pick up without charge. Kinistino and Assiniboia pick up twice a week; Unity, Theodore, Wilkie, Rosthern, Wadena, Nipawin, Outlook, Hague, Colonsay and Davidson pick up compostables weekly; Saskatoon, Swift Current, Prince Albert and Deslisle pick up every two weeks; Luseland does a pickup in spring and fall.

Residents are asked to comply with various restrictions. Swift Current residents must put their yard waste into compostable bags for pickup. Several other communities ask for clear bags; others request that residents de-bag materials when they drop them off. Bagged materials are difficult to deal with - it takes staff time to de-bag them and materials can get stinky if they sit in a bag for a while.

All of the programs but two are operated directly by the municipality or waste management region. Assiniboia and Rosetown contract out their compost programs to a business and non-profit organization respectively.

We didn't specifically ask what communities did with the finished compost, but of those that specified a use, the majority gave it away to residents. The Red Coat Waste Management Authority sells its finished compost. Regina composts its Christmas trees - they allow service groups to accept donations in return for helping people load their cars with their 'tinsel mulch'. It is likely that some communities use the finished compost for their own landscaping and parks operations; this is what Saskatoon does.