A snapshot of rural composting in the Outaouais

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A loader fills a compost grinder.

Greg Newing
Local Journalism Initiative

OUTAOUAIS – As rural municipalities in the Outaouais grapple with the challenge of establishing composting programs that suit their local reality, The Journal reached out to MRC Pontiac, MRC des Collines and several municipalities for an up-to-date picture of compositing in the region.

MRC Pontiac
While there’s currently no compost program in the MRC Pontiac, a MRC-commissioned study in 2022 recommended brown-bin pickup as the most effective way to promote compositing. However, Jason Durand, director of land use planning, said it’s been difficult to agree on whether the program will be managed by the MRC or municipalities.

Durand said the MRC recently commissioned a second study by Solinov to develop a cost-calculator for compost management scenarios. “We’re looking at all the cards on the table at the moment, and once we have an estimate of the costs, it will be much easier to decide,” said Durand. The study is set to finish this fall.

In the meantime, Durand said residents can consider purchasing domestic composting bins and bring compost to the Litchfield and Sheenboro transfer stations.

Richard Armitage, chair of Shawville’s Environment and Waste Management Committee, said he’s eagerly waiting for a decision on the matter, “Id love to see this going forward faster. I’m patiently waiting on the MRC to decide … I think we’ll see more municipalities get on board from the beginning if the MRC decides on a county-wide program.”

MRC des Collines
Chelsea and Cantley have had successful brown-bin programs for several years and La Pêche recently started a compost pickup program in May 2022. La Pêche Mayor Guillaume Lamoureux said reducing waste collection to once biweekly and using trucks with two compartments has helped reduce costs and increase efficiency. He said it was challenging at first to set up a brown-bin program in a rural community, but residents have become more accustomed to composting over the past year.

MRC des Collines Warden Marc Carrière said that while municipalities manage compost pickup, the MRC transports compost from the central transport centre to the compost facility in Kazabazua. He said composting has resulted in significant savings, “If we send garbage to Lachute, it costs $160 per tonne, but when we send compost to Kazabazua, its $98 per tonne,” said Carrière. He noted that Chelsea has reduced its landfill waste by 27% through its program and La Pêche has already reduced its waste by 14% since starting its program last year.

While the Municipality of Pontiac decided a brown-bin program wouldn’t currently be feasible, domestic composting bins will be available to buy at town hall for about $120 in the coming weeks. Pontiac Director General Mario Allen said residents will also be able to bring compost to the Quyon Ecocentre, set to reopen early next year.