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Sault Ste. Marie prepares for organic waste collection

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In response to a mandate from the province, the City of Sault Ste. Marie is preparing for organic waste collection.

The Sault has to begin organic waste collection by 2025. While not downplaying the need for waste diversion strategies, some are expressing concern about the costs of implementing the program.

Susan Hamilton Beach, the city’s director of public works, said an organics program will likely mean higher budgets, but it will also significantly reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.

“It’s approximately 50 per cent of the waste stream,” she said.

“So, when you sit back and think that half of the waste is (organics,) and can, in fact, be diverted, there truly is no reason to place it in the garbage stream.”

Mayor Matthew Shoemaker said the provincial mandate should have come with corresponding funding that could be used to purchase greener garbage trucks and equipment.

“We’re stuck with equipment that runs on combustion engines and contributes to greenhouse gases,” Shoemaker said.

“It’s great that we are improving our collection system generally, but we want to make it a greener collection system across the board.”

Both Shoemaker and Hamilton Beach said organics collection has been looked at off-and-on, but was found to be cost-prohibitive.

But some said the move is long overdue.

“The whole community has asked for this for more than 25 years,” said Peter McLarty, vice-chair of the environmental group Clean North.

“It has been done in other communities 20 years ago and they say, ‘Why isn’t the Sault doing it?’”

McLarty said it’s ultimately up to citizens to take care of the environment.

“You could start at home, simply by reducing the amount of your own compostable materials or doing your own composting,” he said.

Meantime, the city is looking into the idea of bi-weekly garbage and recyclables collection as a means of controlling costs. Organics would be collected weekly to cut down on odours that could attract rodents and other wildlife. 

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