Casey Doucet, a summer student at the SPCA shelter in Granton, empties cat litter into the green cart. Kitty litter is now accepted as part of the Pictou County Solid Waste organics program.
The SPCA shelter in Granton goes through eight to nine bags of cat litter each week in the summer, when the number of cats it houses is at its peak.
That would be a lot of waste going in the garbage, but fortunately the kitty litter no longer has to end up there. Starting last month, cat litter became one of the items accepted by Pictou County Solid Waste in the green carts.
“It’s something we’ve added to the organics program,” said PCSW regional coordinator Susan MacDonald.
“I think it’s great for the environment because we go through so much cat litter,” said Pictou County SPCA manager Agnes Leavitt. “This is diminishing waste at landfill sites.”
MacDonald said a study done in British Columbia found that, on average, eight kilograms of cat litter is generated per person each year. She said based on the population in Pictou County’s six municipalities, this amounts to approximately 340 tonnes of material that could be composted into a useful resource instead of going to the landfill.
“We’re always looking for something new to divert from the waste stream and continue to look for new things to get out of the garbage,” she said, adding that since the organics program was established in 1999, much less garbage is produced in Pictou County.
MacDonald noted that Colchester County and the province of Prince Edward Island have successful programs established with cat litter being placed in green carts.
She said all types of cat litter are accepted in the green carts, most of it made from natural materials such as wheat, corn and other grains, recycled paper, wood products and clay. “All of those materials are biodegradable, compostable.”
Nothing has changed in the composting process, said MacDonald. “This is just the next step in removing a heavy and highly used product from the waste stream.”
Before Pictou County Solid Waste can sell the compost produced at the local facility, it’s sent to a laboratory and tested for content, and she said they’re only allowed to sell Grade A compost. Members of the public as well as agricultural and horticultural companies buy the compost, and MacDonald said it’s in high demand.
“We’re not anticipating any change in the quality of our compost,” she said.
MacDonald said while she doesn’t own any cats, she’s spoken to others who have two or three felines, and they told her the litter makes their garbage very heavy and sometimes they run out of space in the number of bags they’re allowed to place at the curb. “Pet owners are very excited about this.”
MacDonald said feces in the litter can be scooped and flushed, or it can go in the green cart.
Although dog poop is also biodegradable, she said it’s not included as part of the PCSW program, mainly because many people place the feces in small plastic bags. “We don’t want the problems that can occur with the bags and those ending up in our compost.”
For now, cat litter will also still be accepted in the garbage, to give people a chance to get accustomed to the new idea, but MacDonald hopes people take advantage of the program and put it in the green cart. Eventually, though, friendly reminders will be given, asking people to place it in the green cart.
Anyone un sure of what should go in the garbage, green cart or blue recyclables bags can use the Waste Wizard feature on the PCSW website. MacDonald said people simply type the name of the item, and the wizard will advise where to place it.
Any questions about the compost program can be directed to MacDonald at 902-396-1495 or visit www.pcwastemgmt.com.
See related story about organics collection.
Items accepted by Pictou County Solid Waste in the green carts:
All food waste: Bones, meat, fish, oils, fats, coffee grounds, tea bags, dairy items, egg/nut shells, fruit and vegetable peelings, seafood shells
Yard waste: Grass, twigs, leaves, plants, sawdust, wood shavings
Soiled/wet paper: Plates, take-out food containers, napkins, paper towels, pizza boxes, flour/sugar/potato bags, coffee cups, laundry soap boxes
Waxy items: Waxed paper, waxed cardboard, cold drink cups, ice cream containers
Other: Dryer lint, clementine boxes, strawberry/blueberry boxes, non-foil giftwrap, tissue paper, parchment paper
Items NOT accepted:
Ashes, baby wipes, diapers, dryer sheets, metal, milk cartons, garbage items, recyclable items, personal hygiene items, plastics, used tissues, plastic biodegradable bags