The solution is to collect green waste in paper bags.

In many municipalities, plastic bags for leaf and yard waste collection are allowed.  Plastic bags are inexpensive, but debagging operations represent a significant additional cost that must be considered in the operator’s business model and by municipalities, at the collection method decision stage.

Debagging requires the use of expensive machinery and additional labour hours, on site or at the curbside.  In both cases, the plastics management poses problems that result in higher operating costs:

  • Additional time required to extract green waste from bags ($)
  • Accumulation of green waste bags resulting in a delay in the start of composting ($)
  • Additional  labour hours ($)
  • Management of seasonal labour ($)
  • Esthetical contamination of the finished compost product due to the inability of removing all of the small pieces of film plastic ($)
  • Desirable leaf and yard waste trapped in the bags and sent to landfill as residual waste ($)
The solution to these problems is simple: collect green waste in paper bags. Organic waste in paper bags does not have to be de-bagged.

Statistics and studies support the paper bag solution:

  • In Ontario, 80% of municipalities use only paper bags for the collection of green waste.
  • Many of these municipalities have conducted economic studies and all concluded that the cost savings from eliminating plastic bags from the compost process are greater than the added cost to residents for buying paper bags

–     London (2009)
–     Niagara Region (2009)
–     York Region (2004)

  • In these studies, it was estimated that the additional cost of processing green waste in plastic bags rather than paper bags can be $10 to $60/ ton (York Niagara 2004 and 2009, respectively).

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