Monday, October 26, 2009

Edmonton: Green, or greenwashing?

How many people can say that their city puts their normal residential garbage through a giant composting center before going to land fill? I don't know the answer to that, but within Alberta, the answer is almost a million... Which begs the question: How many people actually know what happens to their garbage, aside from it being collected every couple of days?

I am lucky enough to live in a city where recycling is included in my taxes. That means all I have to do is put all paper, plastic, aluminum and other recyclables into a blue bag, and it gets sorted at a recycling center.

Like I alluded to in the first paragraph, Edmonton composts all garbage sent to their facility. They also manage one of the most advanced recycling and electronics recycling facilities in North America. I am happy to live in a community with a progressive stance on sustainable living. Out off all our garbage, only half ends up in the landfill. Last year I wrote a policy proposal to institute the use of biodegradable utensils and take out packaging within the city. This would likely reduce the amount of plastics remaining in the garbage system, reducing the amount of remaining waste to between 25-40%.

That said, problems are present. Currently, the industrial composting system has regular outages, when all garbage is rerouted directly to the landfill facility until the system is running again. This means that for what could be weeks at a time, our supposed amazing facility is down for the count. When the last assessment was done, there was the suggestion for a complete replacement. This was unfortunately not done, and as such the whole waste management process within Edmonton is hit or miss.

That doesn't stop Edmonton from propping themselves up whenever possible, touting their amazing feats of green. We have a parks space which is more than 17 times larger than Central Park in New York. While this is admirable, and I have recently come to realize just how special Edmonton is, Edmonton also has a responsibility as a progressive city to admit the issues which are present, and address how the city will tackle the challenges in the future.

I am excited to see what the ideas are, and how I can help.


  1. Want to see the most god-awful, putrid expanse of waste horror on the planet?

  2. good post, you're right a green city shouldn't become complacent...there's always more to be done

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  4. Ahhhh, this really makes me miss my old job.... =(

    I know the system has its flaws but at least they keep trying and we are still the Number 1 Facility in ALL of North America! Whoot whoot!

    Its to bad there wasn't more responsible people because then they could also have a separate collection for purely compostable materials. They tried it in Sherwood park, so that when the composter went down there was a separate site that only pure stuff would go to... However, to many people put things like, Bikes, kiddie pools, and such in it causing it all to be re-routed as well.

    When I left they had plans in the work for a huge round building that could recycle paper and cottons as well...

    And now the Edmonton landfill site is officially closed with everything being routed 1.5 hours out of the city. Only the rubbish pile.... everything else is still there.

    Ohhhh, and don't forget about GEEP! the electronics recycling plant!!
    Where all our old t.v's and computers get recycled... and 100% recycled at that!!!

    Well.... I think I could talk for along time about this... Ohhh, and when I come back for Christmas I can see the new Integrated Transfer Station!!! Yah!!!

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