Thursday, March 22, 2012

What happens after the Green Bin

If you're like me, you were very excited when the City of Ottawa introduced the Green Bin Program a couple of years back. I study Environmental Engineering here at Carleton and am a self-proclaimed nut about composting! I think it's a great way to reduce the load going to landfills, which are expensive to make and it is becoming more difficult to build new ones. Plus, the final product of composting, compost, can be beneficial to farmlands and gardens. It's a win-win!

Recently, I was a part of a group who was invited to visit the facilities where material from the Green Bin is processed into compost. It is really great to get to see a process that you learn about outside of class in a real life!

When material from the Green Bin arrives, it is shredded to decrease size of some of the larger particles. Then material is piled and basically moved around in different piles under different conditions to help degrade the material.

For organics, such as kitchen waste, paper products, tissue and other items, to decompose it needs the right amount of water and air. When these elements are controlled, or engineered, the composting process is optimized to take less time. It really is a thing of beauty.

The final product is a light and fluffy material that has a nice earthy smell. Any plastic, metal, rocks or other more difficult to degrade items have all been removed in the process and the compost can be readily applied to farmland and gardens to provide necessary nutrients. We had a great visit and I hope that you've learnt a little bit about where your organics from the Green Bin go... and more importantly, I hope you like using your Green Bin as much as I do!