Communities are pursuing waste reduction and diversion
strategies to reduce landfill dependence and lower their GHGs.
A common approach separates organic wastes (kitchen scraps and other
compatible wastes) and sends these for composting. This requires homeowners to separate
their wastes, adding extra trucking, bin and haulage complexity.
Although a valid approach, using an IRM approach is usually both
cheaper and environmentally superior.
A community of just over 100,000 implemented a kitchen scraps
program, requiring homeowners to separate and sort the organic waste
into specific bins.
New garbage bins and trucks had to be purchased to handle the
separated wastes and the scraps were trucked to a local
composter. Homeowners who incorrectly separate the wastes are
then either fined, or their wastes are not collected. The
initiative is unpopular and more expensive as a result.
The separated scraps were sent to a local composting operation.
The operator had to reject a sizeable portion of the wastes (due to bad
sorting) and this caused problems (compost contamination, challenges
selling it and odour issues). The operation was eventually closed down
as a result, triggering financial hardship to the farmer/processor. The scraps
then had to
be trucked out of the region, raising costs and truck-based GHGs.
The total annual cost equates to $407 per tonne and a maximum 63% landfill diversion rate. An IRM approach is
able to achieve up to 97% diversion with taxpayer costs stabilized at $110/tonne
- the current landfill tipping fee cost. As part of the
overall region the extra cost is estimated at $15m/year. The GHG reduction potential
of the initiative was not
An IRM approach was analyzed with the ability to avoid any extra taxpayer costs,
and also avoid forcing homeowners to separate their garbage, or new garbage bins or trucks. GHGs were independently analysed at
approaching 15% reduction of the entire community's
emissions while yielding a sterile soil
In summary an IRM approach in this example is nearly four times more
financially effective than traditional recycling approaches and almost
twenty times more effective in avoiding the landfill. The
GHG benefit can't be compared since the community did not assess
the impact of scraps separation.
The IRM approach was approved by several technical reviews. In
conjunction with the region, the community is now investigating this