Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, the site of North America’s first tidal power station, is leading the way in solid waste recovery among the Maritime provinces. Under the town’s Zero Waste program, recycling and composting have become commonplace among Annapolis residents.
“Our motto isn’t ‘not in my backyard’,” said Amory Boyer, Annapolis’ chief administrative officer. “It’s ‘in everyone’s backyard.’”
She noted that with each additional town-initiated waste recovery program, the recycling rate has gone up, now reaching 73 percent.
“We started the clear bag program in April . That brought it up 11 percent,” Boyer said. Residents are required to use clear bags for all their household garbage which makes it very apparent when someone is not bothering to recycle plastics, glass and other materials.
In addition, the town has now begun a car battery drop-off and a fluorescent bulb return program, at no charge to the participants.
The Zero Waste program was introduced to the town council in 2000 by a group of residents concerned about the growing cost and environmental inefficiency of the town’s waste disposal.
“Our town council thought it was a good idea and adopted the program,” explained Boyer. In the intervening eight years, the recycling rate in Annapolis has risen to an impressive 73 percent, she said.
“We had to do some education and get the property owners involved,” Boyer explained. “But there’s been no backlash, none whatsoever.”
The Zero Waste program uses many different means to make it as easy as possible to compost or recycle. Backyard composters are sold at a discount in local hardware stores. These units compost leaves and grass clippings as well as food items.
Annapolis residents use them to digest food items, including meat, dairy and egg products that are unsuitable for the backyard composters. While they do not produce compost, they hasten decomposition of food items, allowing nutrients to leach into the soil below.
Neighborhood composters are large green plastic bins that are built and maintained by the town. Some town residents, including renters, are not able to participate in backyard composting. The six neighborhood bins allow them to bring their material to be composted.
Finally, Earth Tub composters are commercial-size composters located in the town’s public works yard. These units are for commercial and institutional businesses, such as restaurants, which produce large amounts of organic material.
“The town pays 50 percent of the cost of the green cones and residents pay the other half,” Boyer said. “We take charge of the neighborhood composters. There’s a bin next to each full of wood chips to cover whatever is put in. People are very good about doing that.”
“Composting is cheap,” said Boyer. “Solid waste disposal costs money to truck the stuff away. This is working.”