WEST HANTS, N.S. — West Hants residents will be receiving 'the best green cart' currently on the market when the municipality launches its organic recycling program this spring.
Paul Speed, of Speed Eco Products, and Christine McClare, West Hants' waste reduction co-ordinator, attended West Hants' committee of the whole meeting Feb. 27 to provide an update on the program.
The green cart system will be distributed in two waves, with phase one starting at the beginning of April and focusing on Falmouth, Three Mile Plains and the surrounding areas; and phase two starting in Ardoise and working its way out throughout the county in mid-April. The aim is to distribute 500 carts daily.
“Generally when we deliver a cart, we put it six feet up from the curb so that the homeowner knows it's in their driveway and basically is taking possession of it,” said Speed.
McClare said she will be helping to educate the public on the carts leading up to the launch as well as answering concerns and questions as the roll out occurs.
Since council made the decision in 2017, they've received a mixed reaction from residents – some people are pleased, others say they'll never use the green bin. Speed said in his experience, a lot of people change their mind once they start using them.
“If somebody has concerns or doesn't want the cart or doesn't feel that they want to participate in the program, our response is generally... that the cart is really a part of the property. It's like the metre on your house. If you don't wish to participate in the program, please just take the cart and store it in the back until 1) you either sell the house or 2) you may choose to join into the program,” said Speed, who indicated he has been involved in the delivery of about three million green carts in Canada.
“Probably 70 per cent of the people that don't feel they want to be part of the program, within three weeks, the cart shows up (roadside on collection day). They see their neighbours are doing it; they want to do it for their kids; the kids want the carts out there and they want to participate.”
Speed said the carts that are now being used have vastly improved over the decades.
“I've been doing this for 20 years. You guys are getting the best green cart available on the market,” said Speed.
“It's been out in Nova Scotia for at least four years now and over a third of the province who have had the experience of the old green carts have switched over to this new cart.”
What about smell, wildlife?
Coun. Jennifer Daniels said some of her rural constituents are concerned that the green bins will attract unwelcome visitors to the backyard.
As he showcased a specialized lid for the cart, Speed said the bins are bear-resistant.
“Bears are attracted to the smell. This is the only cart that has an absolute sealed lid. In fact, this lid was designed for a cart that's filled with hot fryer oil,” he said, noting they bins are frequently used by restaurants.
Speed said they tested the carts out at the Oaklawn Farm Zoo three years ago and the animals didn't destroy them.
The cart, which contained three dozen freshly baked blueberry muffins, was put inside the bear enclosure.
“It was a toy,” said Speed. “Then we put it in with the raccoons. Same thing. They just sat on it.”
He said as long as residents take care of the cart and not spill items on the outside, they shouldn't have a problem with wildlife.
No compostable bags allowed
Unlike some municipalities, McClare said West Hants will not be accepting compostable plastic bags, which are commonly used in a smaller kitchen bin before being transferred outside to the green cart.
“Compostable plastic really does not compost,” she said.
“I would say the majority of municipalities that have rolled out the compostable plastic, they would not do so again if they were in our position to start anew.”
Compostable paper waste bags are an acceptable substitute, she said.
As for what can go inside the bin, it's not just fruits and vegetables and kitchen scraps. Anything that is organic, including meat, bones, fat and oils, can be tossed in.
It was in 1998 that the Province of Nova Scotia banned organic waste and recyclable products from landfills.
“Organics have been banned from the landfill for a very long time,” said McClare.
“Rural municipalities were permitted to use backyard composting as a means to meet that requirement although our compliance has been going down,” she continued. “Fewer folks have been backyard composting so we're seeing backyard compostables going to the landfill as well as the meat that could not be backyard composted also going to the landfill.”
McClare said a key part of the program's success is community education and she is available to answer questions or help councillors hold information sessions.