The management of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste has become a major issue lately in the province of Québec, Canada. Most of it is landfilled today, which increases the burden on landfills and is environmentally unsound.
In order to comply with new government guidelines, municipalities have to develop solutions to recover and recycle organic waste. In this context, this study examines two solutions for treating organic waste: home-composting and a separate biodegradable waste collection system combined with large-scale composting.
The two scenarios are compared in terms of costs and environmental performance to a reference scenario where all waste is landfilled, using as a case study a fictional city of 50 000 inhabitants. Results indicate that a centralized collection system, combined to large-scale composting, has greater environmental benefits than home-composting.
It cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 240% compared to the reference scenario, while emissions from home-composting remain at the reference level. However, when compared to the reference scenario, home-composting reduces waste management costs by 15% while they represent an increase of 4% with large-scale composting.
The study concludes that separate biodegradable waste collection combined to large-scale composting is the best way for a municipality to achieve high environmental goals, despite a slight increase of municipal costs. The participation rate of citizens is suggested to be a crucial parameter for the success of organic waste management in the two scenarios and it should be enhanced by different means to ensure the successful implementation of the chosen solution.
Author: Joly, Elsa