Not your parents’ composting

Local organizations bring it from niche to mainstream

Once considered a niche market, composting in Calgary has gone mainstream.

From grass clippings to chicken bones and leftover produce to dryer lint, urban composting has rapidly evolved over the past several years thanks to new curbside pickup capabilities, improved technology and world-class recycling centres, say local sustainability experts.

Since 2015, Hop Compost has diverted more than 900,000 kilograms of waste from local landfills thanks to a new “clean-tech” process called HotRot.

Founder and CEO Kevin Davies said the company turns waste into high-quality organic compost via a process that seals and computerizes the compost process, using live data to optimize microbe activity every 60 seconds.

The resulting compost is certified organic by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

“Our effort has conserved enough water to fill over 633,000 wine bottles and saved enough land to fit 7,600 refrigerators,” said Davies, noting some of its current partners include Buttermilk, Cassis Bistro, Community Natural Foods, Fiasco Gelato, The Nash, J.Webb and Unna Pizza + Wine.

Grow Calgary, an urban farm located west of Canada Olympic Park, is also an active composter, picking up organic food waste from various eateries around town, including Wild and Raw, Higher Ground, Roosevelt Food & Drinks, Fratello Coffee Roasters and 722 Bier Haus.

“Composting is sexy. It’s cool. It’s smart.”

“We pick up their compost and mix it together with five types of ‘browns’ — leaves, grass, sod and soils,” said Grow Calgary founder Paul Hughes. “It makes a very robust compost, a good mix.”

The compost is then used in Grow Calgary’s gardens, which has provided fresh food to more than 30,000 families through the Calgary Food Bank.

“Composting is sexy. It’s cool. It’s smart,” said Hughes. “Composting just makes sense.”

The City of Calgary, meanwhile, is about to take the next step with its composting program after piloting a curbside green cart program since 2012 in the communities of Southwood, Abbeydale, Cougar Ridge and Brentwood. The City plans to launch a larger rollout to all single-family homes by mid-2017.

The City has also started work on a new organics composting facility. Scheduled to open next year, the facility, to be located at the Shepard Waste Management Facility in southeast Calgary will reportedly be the largest of its kind in Canada.

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