Yard waste collection began in early May, but did you know that's only half of the City's composting program? Keeping this yard waste out of the landfill is the first step, and the second step is turning it into a valuable product – compost! Newell Recycling collects and processes the yard waste and gives away finished compost to residents, free of charge.
The process from yard waste to usable compost takes about two to three years to complete. Production of the 2020 batch of Newell Recycling compost has begun, the 2019 batch is maturing, and much of the 2018 batch has been given away.
All the compost is produced using local yard and garden materials including grass, leaves, garden wastes and chipped branches. Every year a sample of the finished compost is sent away to be analysed for major and minor nutrients and harmful bacteria. Results for the 2018 compost, which is now available to residents, include:
There have been concerns over the presence of spruce and pine needles and cones in the compost. If these materials exist, they make up a very small percentage of the compost and have no negative affect (the compost pH of 7.5 is slightly alkaline, not acidic).
The composting process reduces the mass of the vegetation by slowly breaking it down. This makes the nutritious materials naturally found in plants more concentrated which can raise salt levels to a point which can "burn" sensitive seedlings. Due to this high concentration of nutrients, compost should always be mixed with regular soil at a ratio of 1 part compost to 2 to 3 parts soil.
Compost provides nutrients into the soil but another major value is the introduction of microbes into the soil. One teaspoon of healthy soil contains more microbes than there are people on earth. These bacteria, molds and fungi are critical to soil health as they increase nutrient availability, make plants more resistant to insects and disease, and improve soil structure.
In order to create good, healthy compost, it's important that the right ingredients are used. Please put only clean leaves, grass, garden materials, and small twigs into your yard waste bin. Other materials can contaminate the compost. Things like pet waste, food scraps, bathroom waste as our facility is not licensed or designed to process them. There have also been times when full bags of household garbage, diapers, glass, used oil and herbicide containers, shingles, carpet and landscape blocks have been found in the windrows. These items are definitely not going to decompose, can seriously damage the turner, and have to be pulled out by hand. Digging garbage out of a compacted load of compost that has been baking in a bin for a week is not much fun for anyone, so please make sure only yard waste goes in your bin.
If you have any questions about the composting program or process, you can get in touch with Ray at 403-362-9567 or our Public Works Department at 403-362-3146.