Compost options for apartment dwellers!

The Present Situation

Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels

For those living in single-unit homes around Edmonton, including few smaller multi-unit complexes, green compost carts were recently rolled out for public use in March of 2021 (1). This meant food scraps (your veggie and fruit cuttings, eggshells, bones, and leftovers) could finally be separated from your household, non-compostable trash. Previously, Edmonton had collected household garbage and compost together and gone through the process of separating the two at a processing facility. As one would have guessed, this wasn’t foolproof. However, this is still the system in place for the apartment and condo residences around the city (2). Unfortunately, in May of 2019, the compositing facility that was previously in place shut-its doors due to a failed safety inspection and a not so functional roof (3). By the sounds of things, a new compost facility won’t be up and running until sometime between 2023 and 2025. In the mean time, your scraps will be going to an anaerobic digestion facility (1). The city of Edmonton describes this process as something similar to how your stomach digests things: first, the scraps are digested by bacteria to release a biogas and then produce digestate, which at it’s final curing digestion phase, is further digested by bacteria until meeting final compost standards (2).

So, as of March 2019, there is no exact plan for larger multi-unit residential buildings (4). Over the course of the last year, the City of Edmonton has been surveying and collecting data to assure the most acceptable roll-out of a program for apartment dwellers in the near future. But, this doesn’t have to stop apartment-living individuals from pursuing greener waste solutions at home – cause they still can!

Composting solutions for Apartment dwellers

To start with, you need somewhere to store and to kickstart your compost in your apartment. This might include a worm compost system, an electric countertop composting bin, something called a bokashi, or a bin in your freezer holding those scraps.

But then what?

In an apartment, not everyone has a garden on their balcony or an avid green-thumb neighbour. Understandably, your food waste needs to go somewhere! So, I’ve compiled a list for yourselves local to Edmonton, where you will find compost options outside of the traditional garbage shoot currently offered in most apartment complexes.

Places for your food waste:

Photo by Maria Naichenko from Pexels
  1. ShareWaste: a super cool global map of people (individuals, businesses or community leagues) who want your compost! All you have to do is sign up for free to get access to the information provided by hosts welcoming compost. From my quick search around the University campus, three hosts are located in the nearby community of Garneau.
  2. EcoStations: anyone in Edmonton receiving communal collection (ie. no green carts available to them), is welcome to take their food scraps in BPI-certified compostable bags or paper bags to dispose of at an EcoStation! Both Coronation EcoStation and Strathcona EcoStation should have this service available – but I recommend calling ahead, just to be certain.
  3. Compost ‘S cool: the City of Edmonton has created this educational resource to help reduce food waste at home. Included in this resource is the option to bring your personal food scraps to the site for compost! Your food scraps can be dropped off at any time.
  4. Community League Gardens: another great option when your apartment living neighbours might not have their own garden, but your neighbours in the greater community might! This link is to a community garden guide where local spaces may be eager to take your food scraps

Some Thoughts

I definitely recognize that this does not fit everyone’s lifestyle as a student at the moment. Speaking for myself, I’m not sure when I will fit the time into my schedule to go to the closest EcoStation or the Compost ‘S cool site. But, this collection of information and resources is meant to make this tricky situation, just a bit easier. The truth is, the City recognizes that changes for compost systems in apartments and condos are needed in the future, because the current options just aren’t quite perfect. Hopefully, a new system will be in place in the coming years!

Regardless, I found this experience doing research helpful for myself to learn that there is an option to compost, aside from relying on Edmonton’s sorting system. I am going to try my best to implement this into my lifestyle, experiment with each option, and go from there! I encourage you to do the same. If not, please check out one of our other countless blog posts promoting sustainable changes that may better suit your lifestyle at this time. Every little change counts, and by no means is a sustainable lifestyle 100% perfect.

If you have any additional insights on composting in Edmonton, leave a comment! I would love to hear any additional thoughts.

Written by: Megan Jones


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