Diversion & Recycling

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 estimated. 

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 supplement.

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 change.


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Pivotal IRM Inc., 2016