Earth Issues

Composting conundrum

 | September 14, 2012

With the approach of autumn, homeowners and property maintenance personnel will soon be turning their thoughts to the fall clean up of leaves and garden leftovers.

For some, the clean up means wheel-barrowing the detritus to the compost pile, to others it will be delivering the organics to the composting facility of the dump. Many people prefer to bag their yard waste for ease of transportation, or to prevent weeds and invasive species from blowing out of the back of their trucks.

Organic material must be emptied from plastic bags for disposal, but many jurisdictions allow compostable paper bags to be dumped full.

Local resident Dan Stebner purchased compostable yard waste bags in Kamloops, but was disappointed at his inability to use them at the Heffley Creek Landfill.

“I’m trying to move forward on this campaign of being responsible,” he says in face of having his bags turned away four times. He was told that the landfill chips all of the yard waste and didn’t want pieces of paper in the wood chips.

“‘We’re afraid people will take advantage of the system and start using dog food bags,’ that was the other one they told me,” added Stebner.

Bag to Earth, a Canadian owned and operated bag manufacturer, supplies paper composting bags to over 60 municipalities across Canada, and cites no complications to the compost or processing equipment with their use.

“There’s no need for de-bagging (the) yard waste bags. They become part of the finished compost and ultimately part of the food chain,” states their website. “Stringent research has shown that the bags have absolutely no negative impact on either the composting system or the finished compost. In fact results have shown that the bags actually enhance the soil’s ability to grow.”

At present the Thompson-Nicola Regional District requires all yard waste be emptied from bags, paper or plastic, before dumping.

“At this stage of the game, if people try to throw garbage bags of yard waste into the yard waste pile, the attendants get after them. We would have to do some education with the attendants to let them know which are compostable and which aren’t,” explains Don May, director of environmental services for the TNRD. “That sounds like something we could definitely work towards because it makes a lot of sense . . . we’re always trying to keep up with new products as they come along.”

The TNRD is presently expanding the Heffley Creek Landfill to include an Eco-depot with composting facilities.

“We’re working toward a composting site there too, so then we’ll have a whole set of new rules around the composting because we’ll have a grinder and we’ll be processing the material as well,” says May.

The compostable bags are made entirely from renewable resources, and everything down to the ink and glues used are compostable. They’re available at major hardware and building material retailers.