By Trevor Busch
Since the implementation of the town’s three-cart waste collection system in April 2016, the town has allowed residents to use BPI-certified compostable bags in their kitchen catchers and compost carts.
Due to challenges this is presenting at the compost facility, the use of plastic compostable bags is being phased out as of Nov. 1, 2020.
“We’re looking to work better with GFL Environmental as stewards of the land, and be more helpful and work well with the landowners on some of the concerns that have been brought up about that,” said Mayor Andrew Prokop.
Following closed session discussion at council’s March 9 meeting, a resolution put forward by Coun. Mark Garner was passed banning the use of plastic, compostable or biodegradable bags in compost bins. According to the minutes of that meeting, council’s vote was not unanimous.
In a press release issued by the town, the municipality wanted to ensure that it was clear to residents that this resolution does not represent a town-wide plastic bag ban, but is targeting BPI-certified compostable bags sold specifically for compost carts.
Residents can still use paper bags or line the bottoms of their carts with pizza boxes, newspaper, or paper towel if they desire.
According to administration, BPI compostable bags are not breaking down as quickly as the town and its compost contractor, GFL Environmental, would like.
Because the bags do not break down quickly, they end up being picked up by high winds and littering neighbouring properties, including farmland. If the bags are untouched by the wind, they break down so slowly compared to other compostable materials that debris remains within the finished compost.
“We’re aware of some complaints that have come out, and there’s been more issues this year with debris, high wind issues, and operations,” continued Prokop. “They’re very accommodating – GFL – they’ve been more than accommodating to be good stewards for us, the Town of Taber — contracted to take care of the compost and work with the landowners to alleviate all their concerns. So they’ve been very accommodating, did the clean-up, and been very successful with that. They have been taking it very seriously and been more than accommodating, and basically helping in any way they can to ensure there are little to no future problems with similar complaints. They’ve been very helpful and diligent in doing what they need to do, and I believe the landowners are all very happy with that as well. There’s been some meetings related to that as well with them. All things considered, I think now everyone is on the same page and looking for better days ahead.”
The town ban is being implemented in the interest of protecting the surrounding area from litter and to promote best composting practices within the community.
“GFL Environmental is proud of the partnership with the Town of Taber. Taber’s environmental protection and sustainability achievements are world class,” said Don Francis, director of organic solutions for GFL Environmental Inc., in a press release. “We are privileged to provide the recycling of community organics into reusable nutrients and as such support the decision to remove all bags from the green cart program. This adjustment will eliminate any potential for litter escaping into the town and M.D. as well as accelerating our composting process.”
More information and tips for the public will be available from the town in the coming months as the Nov. 1, 2020 ban approaches, but the public is encouraged to stop using the BPI-certified bags prior to that deadline.