Where’ve ya bin, Ottawa?

The city of Ottawa has been abuzz in giddy anticipation.

After almost a decade of dithering, discussing, piloting, debating, studying, backtracking, forging ahead and reconsidering, our  City Council has finally unveiled something they’re calling Green Bin Ottawa.

And, (I can barely stand the suspense)  right now, at this very moment,  many teams of professional bin delivery professionals are out delivering shiny new “Green Bins” to homes all over metro Ottawa.

And boy, oh boy are we excited. Because, you see,  as I understand it, the City of Ottawa, with the help of “science”, has invented something called “composting”. Somehow, this process turns garbage into nutrient-rich soil; and somehow it’s all related to these “Green Bins”. I don’t know why or how or what my role in this is because no one has explained it to me yet.

But wait! Fortunately, the City of Ottawa, at great expense, has hired a team of professional PR professionals to teach us all about the intricacies and mystical wonders of composting. This amazing harnessing-of-nature-composting-miracle is being advertised far and wide. The local media has been full of stories about this crazy new invention. There’s a website complete with catchy graphics; a Facebook page, and…

Ye gods, there’s even a TWITTER account (presumably tweeting minute-by-minute updates on the awesome green bin roll-out campaign).

They reckon it will take about 12 weeks to get the 200,000+ “Green Bins” distributed.  TWELVE WEEKS. Are they being delivered by OC Transpo? Ha ha!

But seriously, I keep saying Ottawa has a big problem with urban sprawl. Now maybe they’ll understand the difficulties of having to take the Northwest Passage to get to Barrhaven.

And then, once we all have our mysterious  new “Green Bins”  we all have to sit and admire them for a few months (or use them as shopping carts or nice planters or something) since no one is picking up any green bin waste until 2010.


The Green Bin Ground Crew – liason officers working on behalf of the Green Bin Program – will be engaging Ottawa residents to make sure they clearly understand how to use their green bins.

Because Ottawa residents are, of course, not all rocket scientists and so need thorough instruction on how to chuck out their potato peelings.

I can’t decide whether to die laughing or cry from embarassment. This is the capital city of Canada. We should be leading the way in innovative environmental initiatives, not scurrying around way behind the rest of the country and then just copying whatever they do.  After diddling around with it for almost 10 years!!  Sheesh. If we’re going to come this late to the party, we should at least be wearing a dazzling gown.

And, the only reason we’re getting a green bin program at all is because we’ve run out of  landfill options.  Ottawa is one of the last cities in the country to still be dumping this kind of household waste into landfills.

I guess there’s been a lot of opposition to the green bin program in Ottawa. It’s costly: $14 million for start-up and $13 million every year to operate. But if other cities are any indicators, the program will also generate some new business – green bin cleaners, manufacturers of green bin liners and green bin deodorizers, green bin protest support groups, etc., etc.  And, anyway, how do we put a price tag on long-range environmental benefits?

Also, there’s the notion that people will be too lazy or too stupid to use green bins correctly. After all, if people wanted to compost, why wouldn’t they already have a composter in their back yard? And then they’d actually get to use the compost on their own gardens. Instead, the City of Ottawa has contracted Orgaworld Canada (part of Orgaworld BV, a DUTCH company) to process  the green bin waste and turn it into compost, which they (Orgaworld) will then sell to local farmers ( except for the 10% they’re giving back to the city – FOR FREE!)

I don’t know. I’m a fan of composting. It makes good sense. A municipally-run composting program would make more sense to me if it was for apartment/condo residents first, with homeowners using  a back-yard system. Ottawa is doing it backwards. But I guess I should shut-up and be happy they’re doing something.Larry




Mayor Larry O’Brien contributes
his own personal waste in support of the program.