London's Green Bin

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The City of London is continuing to engage residents in the design of our Green Bin program. We are hoping to learn more about what will drive your ability and desire to participate in this new program. Share your input and please complete our online feedback form.

What is a Green Bin?

A Green Bin is like a blue (recycling) bin, but for food waste such as fruit and vegetable skins, spoiled leftovers, and other inedible food waste like bones. The Green Bin would be collected from your home at the curbside much like your Blue Box is, and the materials from your Green Bin would be composted or digested.

Other materials like diapers and pet waste can also be incorporated in a Green Bin program, but these additional items add costs to be included in the program. For some of these items, such as diapers, the majority of the item will end up in the landfill.

It is expected that a curbside Green Bin program for London will begin in the fall of 2022.


The City of London is continuing to engage residents in the design of our Green Bin program. We are hoping to learn more about what will drive your ability and desire to participate in this new program. Share your input and please complete our online feedback form.

What is a Green Bin?

A Green Bin is like a blue (recycling) bin, but for food waste such as fruit and vegetable skins, spoiled leftovers, and other inedible food waste like bones. The Green Bin would be collected from your home at the curbside much like your Blue Box is, and the materials from your Green Bin would be composted or digested.

Other materials like diapers and pet waste can also be incorporated in a Green Bin program, but these additional items add costs to be included in the program. For some of these items, such as diapers, the majority of the item will end up in the landfill.

It is expected that a curbside Green Bin program for London will begin in the fall of 2022.

  • ‘Clean’ vs ‘Dirty’ organics

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    04 Jan 2021
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    Complete this feedback form and share with us what items you want to see in London’s Green Bin program.


    Overview


    A decision about the types of materials permitted in the Green Bin is the most critical decision because it will impact other significant operational decisions. Food waste and non-recyclable and soiled paper are the most common materials collected in Green Bin programs. Some Ontario Green Bin programs also accept pet waste and diapers/sanitary products. Yard waste in varying quantities may also be accepted.

    The terms ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ can be used to describe Green Bin program material streams, where ‘clean’ describes programs that permit food waste, soiled paper products and some yard waste, and ‘dirty’ describes those that also accept pet waste and diapers/sanitary products.

    What do you want for London?

    There are a number of different items that could be included in London's Green Bin program. These potential items include:

    • Food waste
    • Soiled paper
    • Cooking oils and grease
    • Household plants
    • Pet waste
    • Diapers, sanitary products
    • Yard waste


    Background information

    Food waste represents about 60% of Green Bin materials and about two thirds of this is avoidable food waste. ‘Avoidable’ means the food could have been eaten. Consider what steps could be taken in your household to reduce avoidable food waste.

    Approximately 50% of London homes have pet waste. Pet waste is approximately 50% dog waste (feces) and 50% cat litter and waste (feces). Including pet waste in the Green Bin will increase processing costs and make the Green Bin materials more difficult to process. It will increase diversion through the Green Bin by between 10% and 20%.

    Approximately 10% of homes in London have diapers/incontinence products.

    Including pet waste and diapers/sanitary products could increase processing costs by between 20% and 40%. Diversion through the Green Bin could increase by between 15% and 25%. It is important to note that the diaper/sanitary products are not composted or digested; therefore, they still end up in the landfill. Depending on the type of pre-processing system used, many dog waste bags may not open and not expose the contents for further processing.

    As noted, both products make the Green Bin materials more difficult to process. However, including these materials in the Green Bin will:

    • make it easier for the public to accept bi-weekly garbage collection;
    • provide minor landfill cost savings; and
    • further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Currently, at least four processing facilities in the Province (one composting facility and three anaerobic digesters) have available capacity to accept organics from London. All four can accept pet waste and diapers/sanitary products. Generally, composting facilities are better suited than anaerobic digesters to manage pet waste and anaerobic digesters are better suited than composting facilities to manage diapers/sanitary products.

    It is expected that new organic management facilities in the future are more likely to be anaerobic digesters and not composting facilities.

    London will also need to decide if a portion of yard waste will be accepted in the Green Bin.


    What about other municipalities?

    A review of 15 Ontario Green Bin programs and three other Canadian programs found that all municipalities have a material mix that includes food, soiled paper, cooking oils and grease and household plants. In addition to this, one-half of municipalities allow pet waste. Only two municipalities allow diapers and incontinence products. See the table below for the details.


    Two municipalities – City of Toronto and Hamilton – are highlighted below as representing two diverse programs in terms of the materials permitted in the Green Bin.


    Toronto


    Toronto allows diapers and sanitary products, pet waste and non-degradable plastic bags in the Green Bin.

    Learn more about Toronto’s Green Bin program

    View a poster about what goes in Toronto's Green Bin






    Hamilton


    Hamilton does not allow diapers or pet waste and has recently banned yard waste from their program.

    Learn more about Hamilton's Green Bin program




    Municipality

    Food waste, soiled paper, cooking oils & grease, Household plants

    Pet waste

    Diapers, sanitary products

    Yard waste

    City of Toronto

    P

    P

    P


    Region of York

    P

    P

    P


    City of Guelph

    P

    P



    Region of Niagara

    P

    P



    City of Ottawa

    P

    P


    P

    Simcoe County

    P

    P



    City of St Thomas

    P

    P


    P

    Region of Waterloo

    P

    P



    City of Barrie

    P




    Dufferin County

    P




    Region of Durham

    P




    City of Hamilton

    P




    Region of Halton

    P




    City of Kingston

    P



    P

    Region of Peel

    P




    City of Vancouver

    P

    P

    City of Calgary

    P

    P

    P

    City of Halifax

    P

    P



  • What size of curbside bin? Small or medium?

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    04 Jan 2021
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    Complete this feedback form to tell us what size bin will be best for your household.


    Overview


    The curbside container is used to store Green Bin materials and will be set out to the curbside on collection day. The Green Bin is normally stored in a garage or outside, like how Blue Boxes and garbage bins are stored.


    Through preliminary research and initial public feedback, staff have narrowed the curbside container choice to two options: a small (about 40 to 50 litre) and a medium size (about 70 to 80 litre) size. These carts are common in other Ontario municipalities. The Cities of Ottawa and Hamilton have both sizes available to residents.


    Larger cart sizes are used in a few municipalities but are not being considered for London at this time. The larger cart would require a semi or fully automated lift mechanism style truck, which would increase collection costs. The larger cart size is also more likely to be used by residents for yard waste which will increase Green Bin processing costs.


    Choosing the right container size

    The right size container will be different for different households. How do you know what size is best for you? It will depend on several factors. Most important is to have a container that is big enough to hold the amount of organic waste that will be created in your household. You also don’t want it too big that storage space becomes a problem.


    The average quantity of organic waste produced by a household is shown in the table below, however, the quantity will vary for each household. Factors that will impact the quantity include how many people live in the household, the age of household members, how meals are prepared (e.g. from scratch vs pre-processed foods), and how much avoidable food waste is created (i.e., the tendency to waste food). Some households are already composting food waste with a backyard composter and may or may not continue after the Green Bin program is implemented. Consider the factors above when you select a preferred cart size for you and your household.


    The type of materials permitted in the Green Bin will also be a factor. For example, if London’s program permits diapers/sanitary products and pet waste in the Green Bin, then households that generate these materials will need to consider this in their selection of bin size. The average generation rate of these materials is noted in the table below.



    Kilograms per Household

    Type of Organic Material

    Per Year

    Weekly

    Avoidable Food Waste

    120

    2.3

    Unavoidable Food Waste

    60

    1.2

    Paper Tissue/Towelling

    25

    0.5

    Diapers & Sanitary Products

    40

    0.8

    Pet Waste

    50

    1.0

    Total Organic Materials

    295

    5.7











    The table above indicates approximate quantities (in kilograms) of organic materials generated per London household, on average, each year and each week.


    This data is based on curbside audits of household garbage set out to the curb for collection.


    Source: 60% Waste Diversion Action Plan – Report Appendices, Table E2: Estimated 2017 Curbside Garbage and Recycling Composition, Page E-6 (https://getinvolved.london.ca/whywasteresource)


    Comparing Container Sizes

    Above: A small sized Green Bin

    Above: A medium sized Green Bin


    What about other municipalities?


    Green Bin curbside carts used in Ontario Municipalities

    Municipality

    Green Bin Carts Sizes in Use (litres)

    City of Toronto

    46/971

    Region of York

    46

    City of Guelph

    80

    Region of Niagara

    46

    City of Ottawa

    46, 80

    Simcoe County

    46

    City of St Thomas

    240

    Region of Waterloo

    46

    City of Barrie

    46

    Dufferin County

    46

    Region of Durham

    46

    City of Hamilton

    46

    Region of Halton

    46

    City of Kingston

    80

    Region of Peel

    100


    1 City of Toronto changed from 46 litre size when automatic/semi-automated collection was implemented. Smaller bins are still used in areas where automatic collection is not possible due to space restrictions.

  • Kitchen containers: What features are important to you?

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    04 Jan 2021
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    Complete this feedback form to tell us about your preferred kitchen bin.


    Overview

    Residents may be supplied with a small container to collect food waste to make collection of organics more convenient. This is typically referred to as the ‘kitchen catcher.’ It is about 5 to 7 litre size, and would be stored in the kitchen (e.g., under the sink, in a cupboard, or on the counter).


    Depending on how much food waste is generated in a household, the kitchen catcher will be emptied into the Green Bin daily or 2 to 3 times per week. Some kitchen catchers have a snap lid and may have a charcoal filter to trap and reduce odours.



    What option will work for you?

    Establishing a convenient way to collect organic waste in each household is critical to a successful city-wide program. Collecting your food scraps for the Green Bin has to be made as easy as possible. If not, then there’s a good chance they will not find their way into the Green Bin.


    We can learn something from households that successfully compost food scraps using a back-yard composter. These households keep a ‘kitchen-catcher’ bin within easy reach to collect food scraps as meals are being prepared and during meal clean-up. The kitchen bin sits on the counter-top while in use and then is stored away when not in use. The size of the kitchen catcher is an important factor. It needs to be small enough for working with on the counter and stored when not in use and large enough to contain food scraps for a day or more. Other features include a lid that controls odours and fruit flies, and possibly attached so that it is not misplaced, a handle for easy carrying, and an opening that facilitates receiving scraps off plates and easily tipping the food scraps into the Green Bin. If you plan to line the kitchen bin, then the size and shape may also be a factor to ensure that the liners fit the bin.


    Some options for kitchen bins are pictured above. To reduce costs the City will also be considering lower cost options. This may include asking those households that are able, to opt for a no-cost DIY bin such as a large metal coffee can or plastic ice cream tub. Another lower cost option is to provide a coupon to go towards the cost of a bin of choice from a London retailer.


  • Bin liners: Paper, compostable, or plastic?

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    04 Jan 2021
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    Complete this feedback form and share what type of bin liner you would like permitted in London’s program.



    Residents may wish to purchase liners for use in the kitchen container and Green Bin. A liner is used to help keep containers clean. Liners help prevent food scraps from sticking to the bottom of the bins. If wet food scraps freeze and stick to the bottom of the bins, not all the contents will be emptied during collection.

    Liners can usually be purchased from hardware and grocery stores. The approximate cost per bag varies depending on the product and where it is purchased. We found the following price ranges:

    • Small Green Bin liners: Between $0.40 to $1.50 per bag
    • Large Green Bin liners: Between $0.80 to $1.50 per bag
    • Kitchen catcher liners: Between $0.15 to $0.70 per bag

    By way of a London example, reusable containers can be used for yard waste as part of the Green Week collections. However, many Londoners choose to pay between 35 cents and 50 cents per paper bag to facilitate their participation in the collection program.


    The type of liner permitted differs from municipality to municipality, and the type permitted could impact householder experience and cost. Liners types include:

    • purchased paper bags
    • newsprint or other household paper
    • purchased compostable liners (i.e., certified compostable bags)
    • non-degradable plastic liners (e.g., plastic grocery bags)
    • no liner

    In a few municipalities plastic bags are permitted for the convenience of citizens, and during COVID-19 plastic bag liners have been required in a few municipalities for perceived/potential hygiene issues.


    What type of bin liner?

    The type of liner permitted will depend on which materials are permitted in the Green Bin. For example, municipalities that accept diapers also accept plastic bag liners. The table below provides details on Green Bin liners used in Ontario and some other Canadian municipalities.


    When you consider what type of bin liner you would like used in London’s program, consider that your decision should be consistent with the type of materials (e.g. food waste, diapers, etc.) you would like to see permitted. A key decision is whether plastic should be permitted in the Green Bin program. Plastics are often introduced if either diapers and sanitary products are permitted materials and if plastic bags are permitted as bin liners. Generally plastic bag liners are used in programs that allow diapers and sanitary products.


    Allowing diapers and sanitary products in the Green Bin will increase processing costs. Diversion through the Green Bin could increase; however, the diapers and sanitary products are not composted or digested; therefore, they still end up in the landfill. The main benefit to adding these materials is the convenience it offers to households which would otherwise need to store these materials for garbage collection over the longer collection cycle. Learn more about what can go in the Green Bin.



    It has been proposed that garbage collection will be reduced to bi-weekly (every two weeks on the same day) when the Green Bin program begins. Green Bin and Blue Box will be collected weekly on the same day. Learn more about bi-weekly garbage collection.


    A graphic of different Green Bin liners. For more information or assistance, please contact cocc@london.ca



    What about other municipalities?


    Acceptable Green Bin Liners

    Municipality

    Paper

    Certified Compostable

    Non-degradable plastic

    Are liners mandatory?

    City of Toronto

    x


    x

    no

    Region of York

    x

    x

    x

    no

    City of Guelph

    x

    x

    no

    Region of Niagara

    x

    x

    no

    City of Ottawa

    x

    x

    x

    no

    Simcoe County

    x

    x

    during COVID-191

    no

    City of St Thomas

    x

    x

    no

    Region of Waterloo

    x

    x

    during COVID-191

    no

    City of Barrie

    x

    x

    no

    Dufferin County

    x

    x

    no

    Region of Durham

    x

    x

    yes/no2

    City of Hamilton

    x

    x


    no

    Region of Halton

    x

    x


    yes3

    City of Kingston

    x

    x

    no

    Region of Peel

    x

    x

    no

    City of Vancouver

    x

    no

    City of Calgary

    x

    x

    partially

    City of Halifax

    x

    no


    Notes:

    1 Green Bin materials must be bagged during COVID-19

    2 Variations exist across the Region of Durham. Some municipalities make liners mandatory

    3 This was enacted during COVID-19 and intend to make this permanent



  • Bi-weekly garbage collection: What concerns do you have?

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    04 Jan 2021
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    Complete this feedback form to share with us what concerns you might have about bi-weekly garbage pickup.


    During the development of the 60% Waste Diversion Action Plan, it was identified that a switch to bi-weekly, same-day garbage collection and weekly recycling and Green Bin collection (on the same day) would be less costly than weekly garbage pickup. Bi-weekly garbage pickup was also considered as key to higher use of the Green Bin program.



    What will be the impact of bi-weekly garbage collection for you?

    Managing garbage over a two-week period will vary for each household, with potentially a greater impact on large households and those using diapers, and sanitary products. Below are some factors to consider.


    Diapers and sanitary products

    If these items are not permitted in the Green Bin storing them for a two-week period may be the hardest challenge of the bi-weekly schedule, and especially when storage in a garage or outdoor shed is not an option. Collecting these items in the Green Bin is advantageous for the convenience it provides, however there are disadvantages as well.

    Is it important for you that these items are collected in the Green Bin? Learn more about what items can go in the Green Bin. If these items are not collected in the Green Bin, there are other options that can be considered to help households manage them over longer collection cycles. These options will be reviewed as part of London’s Green Bin implementation. Table 1 below lists some options that have been used in other Ontario municipalities.


    Table 1 - Special programs to deal with diapers/sanitary products

    Municipality

    Special Programs to Deal with Diapers/Sanitary Products

    Niagara Region

    A diaper exemption program where eligible residents can apply for an exemption to their bi-weekly waste collection.

    City of Ottawa

    A sign-up program for the collection of diapers and sanitary products, on weeks when garbage is not collected.

    Waterloo Region

    Free diaper drop-off at depots (see-through plastic bags are mandatory), and a Medical Exemptions program.

    City of Barrie

    From May 1 – October 31, residents can dispose of a maximum of 2 clear bags of diapers (only) per week at the landfill at no charge.

    Halton Region

    A diaper bag tag program where households may receive diaper bag tags that allow them to exceed the three-bag limit without having to purchase a $2 bag tag. The diaper bag tag also allows households to drop-off their diaper waste free of charge at the Halton landfill.

    Peel Region

    Initially allowed residents that wanted an option to dispose diapers on a weekly basis to register for an exemption that would allow them to bring diapers to drop-off depots but uptake was very low.




    Smelly food waste

    Currently food waste is collected with garbage on a six-day collection schedule. When Green Bin collection begins, food waste (in the Green Bin) will be collected more frequently than it is currently. A weekly collection of Green Bin will be an encouragement for households to ensure food waste goes into the Green Bin and not the garbage bin.

    A challenge for handling food waste in the Green Bin, compared to the garbage may depend on what bin liners are permitted. For example, food waste in a plastic garbage bag is easier to store for a longer time than food waste stored in a paper or compostable bag. However, introducing plastic in the Green Bin creates other challenges. Keep in mind that there are non-liner solutions that households can use.


    Pet waste

    If pet waste is not permitted in the Green Bin, storing it for a two-week period will be more of a challenge. Some households have found that dog waste is easily managed using a backyard digester (sold by the City of London at EnviroDepots). However, digesters cannot manage kitty litter.


    Larger volume of garbage created over a two-week period

    Less frequent garbage collection means that more garbage will accumulate, and households will have to store it for a longer period. Making full use of the City’s waste diversion programs could make a significant reduction in the amount of waste needing to be stored. For example, using the Green Bin for all food waste will reduce the quantity of wet and smelly garbage that needs to be held for up to two weeks. And some households could improve their recycling efforts; waste audits show that some households continue to place Blue Box and other recyclables (e.g., electronics, scrap metal, batteries, etc.) in the garbage. The City will provide reminder information about the recycling programs that are available to help ensure that these materials are not being put in the garbage.


    Garbage tags for curbside pickup and EnviroDepot drop off will continue to be available for households that have garbage above the collection limit or who want to discard of it prior to collection using one of the EnviroDepots. There is a cost for tags and EnviroDepot drop-off.


    Missing a pickup

    If you are away and miss a pickup this means going four weeks between garbage collections. Like all new programs there will be an adjustment phase that includes changing behaviour to adjust to the change. Adjustments could include relying on a neighbour or using the EnviroDepot drop-off.


    What about other municipalities?

    Municipalities with Green Bin programs have found that the amount of organic material collected increases by 50% to 100% with the introduction of bi-weekly garbage collection. Collection of Blue Box recyclables also increases with the introduction of bi-weekly garbage collection. Twelve of the fifteen largest Ontario municipalities with a Green Bin program have bi-weekly garbage collection (Table 2), and two of the other programs are reviewing the option or in transition to go to bi-weekly collection.



    Table 2: Garbage Collection Frequency for Large Municipalities with Green Bin Collection

    Garbage Collection Frequency

    Municipality

    Weekly

    Dufferin County, Hamilton1, Kingston

    Weekly

    St. Thomas2

    Bi-weekly

    Barrie, Durham, Guelph, Halton, Niagara3, Ottawa, Peel, Simcoe County4, Toronto, Waterloo, York, Other Canadian: Calgary, Halifax, Vancouver


    Notes:

    1 Reviewing bi-weekly garbage collection

    2 Weekly garbage, bi-weekly green bin and recycling

    3 Changed to bi-weekly garbage collection in October 2020

    4 Changed to bi-weekly garbage collection in February 2020


    Diapers and sanitary products

    Bi-weekly collection of garbage is a challenge for households that use diapers, and sanitary products. Some municipalities have introduced programs to assist households to manage these materials over the bi-weekly collection cycle. These programs are summarized in Table 1 above.