Wild, Wild Waste! Keeping your trash out of the wrong paws
Date and time
Join us online for this Zoom Meeting.
Meeting ID: 892 1401 3603
Speakers: Ian Ferguson and Nick Stow, City of Ottawa
Opening remarks by Councillor Scott Moffatt, Chair of the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management.
In honour of Waste Reduction Week, the Wildlife Speaker Series is talking trash! Garbage, compost and recycling are a common cause of conflict with wildlife, and a serious environmental issue. Food waste and packaging attract unwanted attention from all kinds of wildlife, including yellow jackets, gulls, raccoons (“trash pandas”) and even black bears. Plastic waste and litter are polluting the environment. Waste management is an essential municipal service, and we need your help to keep it running smoothly. The City of Ottawa is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan and residents are encouraged to participate in that process. In the meantime, our experts would like to share their thoughts on waste management and wildlife. We hope you can join us!
Ian Ferguson is the Manager, Waste Processing & Disposal, within the City of Ottawa’s Public Works and Environmental Services Department. Early on in his career, he spent 13 years working at a mushroom farm producing the compost used to grow the mushrooms. From there, Ian entered into the waste industry in 2003. He held many different jobs across three companies in the private sector until joining the City’s Solid Waste Services Team in 2012. Prior to taking on his current role at the Trail Road landfill site, Ian managed the City’s in-house Waste Collection Operations branch for nine years. Over the years, living and working in the country, he has had many encounters with wildlife, including one with a stray peacock during his days as a waste collection operator!
Nick Stow is the Senior Planner, Natural Systems and Rural Affairs, within the City of Ottawa’s Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department. Nick obtained a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Ottawa in 2005, having completed a thesis on the impacts of selection-cutting on northern hardwood forests. He is a Certified Environmental Practitioner, with a specialization in Conservation Biology. He provides advice to City management and Council on all matters related to the protection, sustainable management and enhancement of the City's natural heritage system: its network of urban and rural forests, wetlands, grasslands and other natural features. He coordinates and manages multi-disciplinary, subwatershed-based, land use planning studies, as well as a wide range of other ecological and environmental projects and studies. Nick led the development of the City’s Wildlife Strategy in 2013, which included the establishment of the Wildlife Speaker Series.
Thank you, Amy, and good evening, everyone. I thank you for joining us during Waste Reduction Week in Canada, which is October 18th to October 24th. A week dedicated to promoting innovative waste reduction strategies across the country. This year's Waste Reduction Week theme is Then – Now – Future, which is quite fitting since the City of Ottawa is developing its Solid Waste Master Plan between now and 2046. Ottawa's population will increase by an estimated 400,000 people. If we keep doing what we're doing now. Our landfill site could reach capacity as early as 2036. The Solid Waste Master Plan will guide how we manage solid waste over the next 30 years. It will ensure that waste is managed in a more sustainable way. It will give our residents options that they need to help us reduce waste. And of course, the best way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it. The City of Ottawa will continue to encourage residents to refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle whenever they can. This can be as easy as refusing by buying less. By not buying items with excessive non-recyclable packaging, reducing by purchasing quality products that will last longer as opposed to items with shorter lifespans. Reusing by shopping at secondhand stores or giving away gently used items for others to reuse. Obviously, we know that the swap and sell and the buy nothing sites on Facebook are quite popular for that reason.
Repurposing by getting creative, using empty glass mason jars as vases, for example, or turning old clothes into household rags. I think my entire cupboard for glasses is only mason jars. They're usually half-filled with water into my daughter's room. You can also. We also encourage you to recycle by participating in the city's recycling and composting programs to help divert waste from the landfill. Disposing of your waste properly in the right bins is a very simple step that you can take to ensure that we make a big difference for the environment. You can help reduce conflicts with environment, with the wildlife as well, both at home and across the city. As you will learn in today's presentation from our staff experts on wildlife and waste management. Using your black, blue and green bin properly helps protect wildlife and keeps your community safe. Thank you for taking the time to be here this evening, to learn more about waste and wildlife. I encourage you to get involved and have your say in the Solid Waste Master Plan as well by visiting Engage Ottawa website to stay informed on upcoming consultations and to see results from past engagement sessions. Thank you very much. Enjoy.
Thank you, Chair. And without further ado, I'd like to ask our staff to put the presentation on the screen, and we'll turn it over to Ian Ferguson from Waste Management. Take it away, Ian. Just a quick reminder first on the Zoom protocol for raising your hand on the opening slide here. And remember again, if you don't want to be seen in the YouTube video, please keep your camera off. Thank you and enjoy the presentation.
Thank you, Amy, and thank you, everyone, for attending tonight's session. As Amy mentioned, my name is Ian Ferguson. I am the acting manager of waste processing and disposables with the City's Public Works and Environmental Services Department. I’m very happy to have this opportunity to talk about ways to protect your waste from wildlife and vice versa. With that being said, let's start with the presentation. Let's start with organic waste. There are many ways to deter pests and animals from getting into your green bins. Like this raccoon pictured here, but also chipmunks, squirrels, foxes, skunks or even domestic animals like cats and dogs. Basically, animals regard your waste as a food source. So really, it's about keeping the smell down in your containers. If you recall, in 2019, we made some changes to our green bin program to allow plastic bags as a bagging option. These changes were made to reduce the yuck factor and help with pest management, which we heard was a top barrier from residents as to why they weren't using the program. As a result, you can now use plastic bags to wrap your food waste. Most people have that kitchen catcher container on their counter or under their sink in the kitchen. It's a great place to put your food scraps while you're cooking. Milk or bread bags, or even plastic bags from grocery stores, make great bin liners.
Once that bin is full, tie it in a tight knot. It really helps to keep the odour down in your bin. I'm a huge fan of this. We have four children here at home, so you can imagine the food scraps that we generate. Since I've been doing this, very rarely do I have any critters getting into my green bins. And I also live in the country. Another good strategy, if you're able to, is freezing meat, bones and fish until the collection date. I know people often have an extra fridge or freezer, and if you're able to do this, it helps a lot. Grease and oil can be put into paper cups for milk cartons before they go into the bin. And in between collections, if you can, you may want to hose down your bin and use a mild detergent. Keeping your bins clean keeps the odours down. Another option that you could use is to line your green bin with a paper or a plastic bag. Those leaf and yard waste paper bags make a great ventilator and help keep your bin clean as well. If you have a garage, keep your bins in the garage until collection day. Not everybody has this luxury, but if you do, it will make a big difference.
If you don't, you could always secure your bin lid with a bungee cord. But before you place it out your curb, please remove the cord. This can pose a health and safety risk for the waste collection operators. And it might delay your collection. As a reminder, dog waste and sealed plastic bags can also be placed in the green bin. Next slide, please. We'll talk about the blue bin a bit. There are measures you can take so that animals don't make a mess with your recycling. These same measures also help protect the wildlife from eating plastic or getting trapped in different containers. Obviously, when we were talking about reducing the smell, you want to rinse your containers well. So nothing appealing is left in them. If you can't get everything out, like with a peanut butter jar or mayonnaise container, make sure you leave the lid on it. These types of things really attract wildlife to your recycling bins, and there's, you know, potential of an animal getting their head stuck in the jar when they're trying to get the food out of it. Like the green bin, it's best to keep your blue box in your garage until collection day, if you can. If that's not possible, you can always try and cover your blue box with a piece of plywood with a brick on top of it.
It really helps. For collection, the night prior to collection. If you can, leave it in your garage, leave it beside your house with the piece of plywood on top until the morning of collection. That'll help. Hopefully there won't be a big mess on your lawn in the next morning. Next slide, please. Keeping wildlife like our furry feathered friend here in this picture out of your garbage is easy. Use your green bin. Without organic content in your residual waste, it won't be very interesting for wildlife to be looking for food. Since you may still have a few smelly things in the container like cheese wrappers, for example. Try and purchase a bin that the lid closed properly. Animals obviously get into these garbage cans by tipping them over and knocking open the lids. As I mentioned previously, if you don't have a garage to store your containers, use a bungee cord. People in the country sometimes build a big wooden garbage box that houses all of their containers until collection day. Again, remove the bungee cord and take the bins out of the box. It poses a risk for the health and the health and safety concerns for our waste collection operators. Next slide, please.
Seagulls are very interested in garbage, and they're particularly interested in the landfill at our Trail Road waste facility. We have a Raptor program in place to deter seagulls. It's a pest and disease control measures, stopping gulls from spreading garbage everywhere. This picture that you see on the screen shows a handler with a falcon named Lucy. Lucy is on duty at the landfill pretty much every day. And as soon as she shows up in the morning, you don't see a seagull in sight. It's really amazing to see. The Raptor program wouldn't be necessary if there weren't any organic waste in our landfill. But that's not the only good reason to use your green bin. It really helps the environment. How, you might ask? Keeping organics out of the landfill. Not only extends the life of the landfill, it also helps fight climate change. Reducing the amount of methane that gets created when organic matter is decomposing in the absence of oxygen. Next slide, please. While the mountain of waste at Trail Road is growing every day, the city is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan. [Inaudible] this plan in the most sustainable way possible, if you type Ottawa dot CA slash waste plan into your search engine, a URL shortcut will take you straight there. The next round of public consultations is set to start in November. Make sure to join in the conversation and have your say. Thank you. And I'm now pleased to hand it over to my colleague, Nick.
Hello, everyone. My name's Nick Stow. I'm a Senior Planner with the City of Ottawa and the Natural Systems Unit. I'm a planner by title, but a biologist by training. This is going to be a little bit of a different take on waste at the City and impacts on wildlife. First of all, when we talk about the impact of waste on wildlife, we really need to take a step back and talk about consumption. The photo in this slide is from the waste dump in Abu Dhabi. About 15 years ago, as a consultant, I carried out a biological inventory of this area in preparation for construction of a proper landfill. At the time, they were basically dumping the garbage in the desert. And you can see, it would catch fire and smoke and smoulder for quite a while. The project actually never went ahead. To the best of my knowledge, they're still dumping garbage in the desert. I think that's in part because of the attitudes of the local people toward the desert, which they just see basically as empty space. The use of space for waste disposal is a form of consumption, so we consume land for garbage. We consume the capacity of the atmosphere and the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide. We consume the capacity of lakes and rivers to absorb nitrogen and phosphorus.
This is part of what is called our ecological footprint. The area of the Earth's surface that is needed to support humans. And some people have calculated that ecological footprint currently as about 1.7 times the total area of the Earth. Now, if that sounds counterintuitive, think about your own budget. You can live beyond your income for a short time, if you use credit. But someday, you will run out of credit. It's the same for consumption. We are using resources faster than they are being replenished. When we talk about waste and the impact of waste on wildlife, the first and most important step that we can take is to reduce our consumption. Reduce consumption and we reduce waste. This is an individual decision. This is one area where individual decisions and make a difference. We got into our current problems through the cumulative effect of small decisions, and that's how we're going to have to get out of it. Through the same small decisions through our personal choices, whether as citizens and political actors or as consumers. Next slide, please. Let's talk about some individual actions and their impacts on wildlife. I'm going to expand our common definition of wildlife to include all natural living things, not only animals. The easiest change that we can make, as Ian's been talking about, is how we dispose of waste. One of the things many people will be aware of, I certainly am, because it's part of my job to be is that almost every natural area in the City contains garbage.
On the screen here you can see a pile of garbage in Panmure Alvar. This is a kind of a specialized habitat area. It's out in the rural area of the City. There's another pile of garbage in the Chapman Mills woodlot right in the urban area. We can find illegal dumps, fridges, and stoves in the Marlborough Forest. And just simple, small blue bags of dog poop hanging from trees along our urban trails. This garbage can sometimes include, at least in my definition, things that we might not consider at first to be garbage, such as yard waste or live fishing bait. Next slide, please. Sometimes people dump what I would call waste, even with the best of intentions. Although they call it feeding wildlife. Unfortunately, people still do feed coyotes, for example, in Ottawa. They will actually put out waste food or even things like dog food for coyotes to feed on. That almost always ends badly for the animals, and it can create indirect effects that we may not really be aware of. Coyotes are a good example. When we feed coyotes, they lose their fear of humans. At that point, once they've lost their fear of humans, their fate is pretty much sealed. If they don't get hit by a car, then they're likely to become a nuisance or a genuine public threat and be trapped or shot.
People also feed deer. They'll put out bags of apples or table scraps or whatever for deer. Well, deer are the final host for black-legged ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Those ticks need a final blood meal from a deer for reproduction. When you feed deer, you're probably increasing the chance of being bitten by a Lyme infected tick within your local area because you're bringing that host for the tick into your local area. One of the most pernicious problems in our urban area, one of the really tough ones to deal with is the dumping of yard waste. You can see here on the in the slide, on the right. That's yard waste dumped into one of our urban natural areas. This occurs everywhere in the city, and it is one of the main mechanisms for the introduction of invasive species like periwinkle, Japanese knotweed, alder buckthorn. This is how those invasive species, one of the main ways those invasive species, get into our urban natural areas and displace our natural species, which in turn the loss of those may affect things like biodiversity pollinators. Similarly, the dumping of live bait can impact our natural areas. Invasive earthworms. People use earthworms for bait. I admit I did this when I was a kid. When you've finished fishing for the day, you take your leftover worms and you dump them in the woods behind your house.
Well, those invasive earthworms, they're not native to forests. They get in there and they change the way that the recycling occurs. They affect the whole biodiversity of the area. Dumping of live fish like the round goby can also move those invasive species from waterbody to waterbody, watershed to watershed, and cause incredible impacts on our aquatic ecosystems. Next slide. Second area where we can really exercise some personal choice is in the disposal of our subscriptions, our medications and our personal care products. I once as a consultant again, I once worked on a project where we were trying to assess how much waste was leaking from poorly maintained septic systems. And we used caffeine as a tracer because caffeine doesn't occur in the natural in the environment. Naturally, it only comes from sources. Basically, we pee out caffeine. It can be then traced through ground and surface water and can be used to estimate how much septic tanks are leaking. Just as the caffeine enters the water, so do the prescriptions that we use. So do the chemicals in our shampoos or skin care products, our makeup or sunscreens. Many of these chemicals are very powerful chemicals. They actually can occur in concentrations in the natural environment that can affect aquatic organisms.
You'll hear stories about how fish or aquatic organisms or frogs are found with deformities. While some of these chemicals are related to hormones, which can affect growth and reproduction. We don't want to stop taking our medications, obviously. But I wonder how many of us have flushed an old medication down the toilet rather than try and actually figure out how it should be disposed properly. By the way, the proper way to dispose of medications is to take it to the hazardous waste disposal. We can also be a lot more selective about our choice and use of personal care products. At the very least, we should know what is in the products we use and how they can affect the environment. Sunscreen is a great… Within the last several years, researchers have discovered that sunscreens are having a negative impact on coral reefs. It turns out that the chemicals that are in sunscreens are released when you go swimming and coral reefs are sensitive to those. As people, as ecotourism increases and people are snorkelling and scuba diving on coral reefs, we're actually seeing damage to coral reefs from sunscreen. It's important to know what's in your product products, and it's important to use them as intended, not overuse them, use them when you should be. Next slide, please. This is a big topic these days, microplastics. We can really make an individual difference in our use of plastics.
The photo in this slide is of a microscopic organism, an aquatic organism known as a copepod. It is trying to swim through a soup of microplastic fibres. I couldn't get the moving video, but you can actually see the copepods struggling to get through all of these small fibres. Plastics do not decompose in the environment. They're basically gradually broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. They get small enough to be measured in micrometres or even nanometres. So that's one millionth of a meter or one billionth of a meter. This kind of degradation doesn't just occur in nature. It also occurs in our dishwashers and our washing machines. Plastic containers in the dishwasher shed microfibres. Plastic-based clothing like some of our fleece products shed microfibres when we wash them. We know what the impact of plastic bags can be on marine life. We've probably all seen photos or we've heard of sea turtles consuming plastic bags because they look something like a jellyfish. But we're still coming to grips with the possible impacts of microplastics. We just don't know. We know that they are found everywhere. We know that they're found in the food and the water we consume, and that our aquatic organisms and our frogs and our fish are swimming in. And we know that the smallest particles can even pass through cell membranes.
That's pretty shocking. We don't know what the long-term impacts are. I think we can guess that they're unlikely to be benign. What can we do? We can, of course, give up single use plastics, and I think we've seen that we're moving in that direction. There's legislation related to that. When choosing food storage containers, we could look for glass containers or silicone containers instead of plastic containers. If we have plastic containers and I got some up in my kitchen right now, hand wash them, don't run them through the dishwasher. Hand washing causes less wear and tear. It removes fewer microfibres. Choose natural-fibre clothing. I highly recommend that miracle fabric, wool. It will keep you warm when it's wet and cool when it's hot. If you must use fleece, then try and wash it on a gentle cycle. Next slide, please. We sometimes look at the big environmental challenges and we wonder what we can do as individuals. Individually, I have very little control over whether my electricity comes from gas-fired plants, nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, wind or solar, and that in that respect, I have to exercise my power and influence through the political systems. But when it comes to consumption and waste, I have almost all of that control. And it's my responsibility and I have it in my power to make change. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Nick, and thank you, Ian. At this point in the proceedings, we're going to move into the panel discussion. I have a few questions for our experts to begin, and after the panel discussion, we will be moving to ask for questions from our attendees. Again, at that point, we'll be asking you to put up your virtual hand and you will be unmuted when it is your turn to speak and ask your question. But for now, let's get started. We've heard in the presentations tonight about, first of all, things we can all do at home to help keep our garbage safe from wildlife and our wildlife safe from garbage and other waste products. Nick also mentioned some of the more obvious effects of dumping and improperly disposing of garbage and waste into the environment. Nick, I think you began to allude to this with respect to coyotes. Feeding wildlife is actually prohibited in City parks, which I'm not sure whether all residents are aware of. It's prohibited for some of the reasons you mentioned regarding putting food out for wildlife deliberately, but wouldn't carelessly discard of food wastes and other attractants like that in parks also potentially lead to wildlife conflict?
Yes, Amy. Absolutely. I occasionally get called out to do an assessment where we've got an ongoing conflict with coyotes and often what I find in our parks is that has been open food dumped into garbage cans. One of the simplest ways we can prevent conflicts like that is simply to pack up our food waste and take it home with us and dispose of it properly and in the green bin. I'll also add that the green bin is a great way to avoid conflicts as well. If food is not secured in a green bin, if it's put in a garbage can, something that an animal like a coyote can access, then that coyote is going to try to do that. They're omnivores. They will feed on pretty much anything they can find, including food scraps and garbage cans. Putting your food scraps into your green bin instead of your garbage can is another great way to help reduce conflicts with wildlife. We don't want to see those conflicts because they say it never ends well for the animals.
Very true. Certainly your point is well taken about separating out those food wastes. Ian, before we turn the question to you. What if residents are out somewhere where there are no bins or where there isn't the potential to separate into different bins? What do we recommend in those cases?
The obvious responsible choice would be to take your waste home with you and dispose of it properly. But currently, the solid waste department at the City is piloting recycling and organics collection at a small number of parks across the city. Hopefully sometime next year, we should see how that goes and hopefully it expands.
That's excellent. I imagine. Of course, it's very dependent on resources being available for programs like that. So certainly if you're in an area where that program is not being rolled out, then the standby solution is to carry it on home with you. Leave no trace. Many of us probably have had the experience of seeing squirrels diving in the garbage cans in the park, hoping to find those food scraps. It's something that's really not what we want to see with the larger animals and some of the other species that sometimes do that. Obviously, we're all still recovering and making our way through the extremely significant health event, the pandemic. Have we seen significant changes in trends involving waste and in waste management in the City through this pandemic? How has it impacted these things? I've personally noticed a lot more littering of certain types of things. You see disposable masks everywhere these days and in the beginning there were plastic gloves as well being discarded all over the place. Nick, I can't help but think that must be an issue in terms of the environmental concerns you were mentioning.
Any waste of any kind. Masks and gloves, and so on, are not generally edible objects. There's the potential for problems with any waste that we have lying about.
I would imagine the masks could be an entanglement issue as well, in some cases. They're not food waste, they're not as attractive, but there's always the potential for something to get tangled up in them.
Yes, I'm sure that it does. I'm sure that it does happen. Both with small mammals, terrestrial animals and probably also aquatic animals. That's often where we see entanglements. Turtles are particularly prone to getting tangled up in.
A good point. Because everything does get to the ocean. Eventually, before it gets there, it goes through our ponds and streams and rivers. Ian, how about from a solid waste management perspective? What trends have you noticed over the past year and a half to two years?
Oh geez. It's the obvious, right? With more and more people being home and working from home, it's obviously increased waste amount significantly. People are doing more household renovations. Purging, cleaning their garages, cleaning their basements. They're looking for ways to keep themselves busy. Through no fault of their own. It's an obvious increase of items being discarded at the curb every week or every other week. In the case of the garbage collection. It shows how important it is to refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle when we can. I have to get my pitch in for the Waste Collection operators here. They're near and dear to my heart. With the increase of items at the curb, it's increased their workloads significantly. A normal 10-hour day in the first 90 days of the pandemic increased their workdays to 12-13-hour days. These folks obviously didn't have the luxury of working from home like everybody else. When people talk about frontline workers, these guys were true frontline workers. If we're picking up the garbage, we have to take it to the landfill. Those folks at the landfill, equally the same. Their workloads increase significantly. My hat's off to them. It's been a tough goal.
I imagine the people may not have been disposing of things in the usual way. I know we had to defer some of the hazardous waste pickups. Those are back on now, which is great. But perhaps a reminder to folks to always check the City's Waste Explorer tool to help them figure out which items can go where and which items really shouldn't be going out to the curb at all. We do have some diversion programs available. I'm not sure whether the free giveaway weekends we're going on during the pandemic, but hopefully we can get those back online again soon as well to help people swap items around. Now that we know a little bit more about the causes of transmission. One last question before we open it up to the public for their questions. I see we've got one resident at least with his hand up already, and we'll get to you in just a minute, sir. But first, Ian. Inquiring minds want to know. Could you elaborate on that encounter with a peacock that you mentioned in your bio on the city's web page?
That's going back a long time. That happened in my early days when I was an actual Waste Collection Operator and the private sector. I was collecting recycling in a small town. As I was coming down this street. I was about 200 yards away, give or take and I could see this bird sitting on the blue box that I was going to be collecting. As I was getting closer, the bird started to look bigger and bigger. I couldn't really tell at first what it was, so I kind of parked my truck a little bit before the laneway to get out. To walk towards it. Just to gauge how the bird was going to react. Well, it reacted. The tail came open. I don't know if you've ever heard a peacock. They almost yell at you in a really high-pitched noise. It scared me substantially. I got back on my truck, called my supervisor, and I proceeded to drive away as the bird was following me. I had to go to a totally different neighborhood and keep collecting. It was there for the next few weeks. Same bin, same house. Then all of a sudden, one week it wasn't there anymore. That was my interaction with a peacock.
Maybe the household decided they were tired of having their waste not get picked up because of the peacock being territorial about it. I imagine our waste collectors must get to see quite a bit of wildlife on their routes. A peacock is a bit exceptional, though.
It was the one and only for me.
You know, Amy, running into a peacock is never a pheasant experience.
Oh, Nick! Ornithological puns!
Oh dear. All right. I see we do have a couple of hands up right now. I am just being reminded that the last hazardous waste depot of the season is coming up on this Saturday. If you do have any items that should not go out into the regular landfill waste, please bring it to the Westbrook snow dump site. There is obviously much more information available on that on Ottawa.ca. If my colleagues could let us know who's first up and unmute their mic. We'll get to the questions.
Absolutely. So we will start with Ross Thomas.
Hi, there. Mine's not so much a question, but more a comment about the interaction with wildlife. Particularly I'm in a rural setting and one of the big issues for us tends to be people driving by in the evening, going home, having picked up food at one of the fast food places and just tossing it out of the car door or out of the window into the ditches. It certainly attracts the wildlife. It doesn't get rid of the non-disposable components of their meal, but it certainly increases the roadkill issue as well because it draws the animals to the curb side of the road. The other issue that I am also concerned about, as for a number of the residents around here, is that with some of the city's proposal for the waste. Where they're considering issuing charges for waste collection. We’re likely to start seeing more roadside dumping in the farmland, the rural area because it all right already occurs from time to time with people. Well, more frequently than time to time in some areas. With people just dumping mattresses, beds, bits and pieces they don't want on the side of the road on infrequently travelled roadways. That's another issue I think we're concerned about. That also attracts the animals just out of curiosity. The fact that they interact with that material and can get trapped in it, etc. Thank you.
Amy, I'll just comment on the dumping of food waste along roads. It's something that we do see a lot and I agree, Mr. Thomas. It does have very negative effects on wildlife. Not just on terrestrial or ground animals, but it will attract birds. Anything that would feed on that waste. Crows, ravens, even raptors will come down and feed on that kind of waste. They frequently don't get out of the way fast enough when a car does come along and are struck. It's very sad to see. Maybe Ian has something to comment on the waste management program and the bag proposals. I don't know.
No, not necessarily. Unfortunately, these things happen, obviously we'd like to think everybody is responsible for their choices. But it does happen. Like Mr. Thomas says, more so in the country. I live in the country as well. On my drive home from work every day, I tend to see the same things. As for the illegal dumping, we see that as an issue. Usually in any change and collection styles, that's an obvious proponent. When we change to the biweekly garbage collection, we saw a slight increase in illegal dumping. We try. We have Solid Waste Inspectors investigate the incidents. If they find evidence to know who the person is, we try our best to issue fines and citations.
I think even to perhaps the with the upcoming Solid Waste Master Plan consultation include an opportunity for residents to provide comments on the ideas of, you know, tag a bag and paying for removal. I used to live in Osgoode Township prior to the amalgamation and we had a tag a bag program there and it seemed to work quite well. Under that system, everyone had one free bag a week. Beyond that, yes, you had to pay. There were systems set up to keep things affordable. But as you say, Ian, you have to hope that people choose to act responsibly with their trash. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Could we have the next question, please?
We have Joanna.
Yes, my question has to do with the green bin. I use the paper bin liners, especially now that the climate, the weather is going to start to get cooler and I don't want it sticking to the sides of my bin. My question is what happens to all the plastic bags that are used in the green bins? Everybody says use less plastic and then we're going back to using plastic bags and green bins.
When the materials are collected and they're taken to the organics facility, Convertus. Through their process, all of the materials run through a shredder. This takes the organic materials out of the plastic bags and through the rest of the process, the bags are put aside as a residual waste and they are loaded up and taken back to the landfill.
So the organic component is not mixed in with the plastic?
No. I'm not going to say it's 100%, but through their process, everything is run through the shredder and this removes the organic material for the process. The residual plastic waste is then taken to the landfill.
I hate for us to take a step backwards in all of this, if you know what I mean. I think the green bin is wonderful and I live in a rural area too. So far I haven't had really any issues with the wildlife getting into it, nor with my garbage, because we have special garbage bins that we can clamp down. I just was always wondering what happens to these plastic bags and was concerned that maybe we were doing more damage to the environment than good.
The plastic bags were incorporated to increase participation in the green bin program. Which it did so we're happy about that and like I said, it's run through a process. The bags are separated out and they're taken to the landfill as residual waste. Thank you.
OK, thanks for that, Johanna and Ian. Next, we have, the name is Owner, so you can unmute yourself.
I don't know why it comes up as Owner. My question is about invasive plants, so I found some buckthorn out on the property behind us this summer. And when it started fruiting, I cut it down and when I looked to see what I should do with it, some places say put it in a black plastic bag and leave it there for weeks in the sun. Other places say to put it in the recycling bin. But it depended on if the recycling, the green bin recycler or the green product recycling actually heated up enough when they were processing it to kill the seeds and the berries. So maybe Ian could answer that.
Good question. More often than not, when we're dealing with that here at the City, I know through my colleagues in parks, they ask people to put it in the plastic bags and bake it for a certain amount of time. I'm not 100% on the process at Convertus. Whether or not it reaches a certain temperature for long enough to kill that. I not 100% I'd have to get back to you on that.
Because I just thought, if you put it in a black plastic bag, I guess I would have to keep it for a few weeks in the sun because otherwise it just goes in the regular garbage and then kind of defeats the purpose.
I will put a plug in for an organization called the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. I see that one of the local members and force in that organization, Iola Price, is actually on this at this Zoom meeting today as an audience member. They have some very good information on how to control, manage, dispose of invasive plants. I would look up the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and you can very likely find information on disposal of buckthorn on their site.
OK, thank you.
It definitely matters which species you're dealing with when you're trying to handle the invasive species. As you noted, it matters whether you've got things like berries and seeds mixed in with the other material. When you dispose of it, some plants will reproduce quite readily from cut up chunks of root and stem. Others will only reproduce by seeds, but they produce a lot of seeds. You do have to know something about what you're dealing with to know how to dispose of it safely. As Nick said, the Invasive Plant Council provides excellent resources that I've referred to myself when I'm doing my weed disposal around the house. It's very good information. Thank you for your efforts in trying to make sure that you're controlling it, but doing so properly.
I had read that the seeds from the buckthorn are actually a laxative, so anybody that eats them then goes through them gets them dispersed everywhere. It was kind of self-serving.
It's a very successful invasive species. That one's a very interesting one, not only for the laxative effect, but it also helps to suppress some other types of plant growth around it. It has some of the similar effects that walnuts do. Different chemicals, but the same general effect where it can help depress the growth of some other plants.
I didn't know that.
Apparently butternut can outcompete it.
Yeah, it's kind of neat. Do we have any other questions from the audience at this point? Are there any other closing thoughts?
And you must. I have at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit or better in your composting. There is something. How to deal with the pH of the compost process, you need a certain amount of moisture. You need a certain amount of organic matter. I'm looking quickly through this Phragmites. It's been about three years since I read this thing, so I can't quite remember. But the short answer is the longer and the hotter the berries are composted, the better it is. One problem that I found here in Ottawa is putting berries into a black bag and leaving them out for two or three weeks in bright sunshine. We don't get two or three weeks bright sunshine very often. So that just doesn't work. But the answer is longer is better. If you are in the City of Ottawa would like to give us a small contract, we can do a little bit more work on this. Nick and Amy, I would be delighted to scan this and send it to you and then you'll have it on file. Brown, April 2018.
Yeah, please do that.
I'll I will. Thank you, Owner, whoever you are. Please do go to www.OntarioInvasivePlants.ca. We have best management practices. Documents for over 20 invasive plants and how to deal with them. I know this wasn't the subject of your discussion tonight, but I just can't resist since you gave me the opportunity.
OK, thank you.
Gentlemen, any closing thoughts on your part?
I’m going to put a plug in, again, for the Solid Waste Master Plan. Please. Ottawa.ca slash waste plan. The next round of public consultations are set to start in November. Please join in. Have your say. Just a correction, Amy, the last hazardous waste depot is on Sunday, October 24th.
Sunday, not Saturday,
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
No closing thoughts from me, Amy, I think I've said everything I wanted to say.
I'll just put in a plug for the city's website as well. We do have information on how to avoid conflicts with wildlife around the home. They do include a few of those tips that Ian mentioned. We also have some links that I hope people will find helpful. Certainly, there are very good organizations locally that have tips on how to prevent conflicts with wildlife around the home. Certainly, managing your garbage around the home is one of the big ways that you can help to avoid those wildlife conflicts. To keep yourself, your homes, all of the wildlife around you, safe. I think we've all seen some of those pictures on social media of the poor little animals running around with peanut butter jars on their heads. As Ian says, there are easy ways to keep that from happening. You just have to think about it when you're putting your garbage out. Keep those lids on, keep those containers clean, make them less attractive. If you can keep your garbage inside until the morning of collection, it just gives the animals that much less opportunity to get into trouble. Everybody will be better off. It looks like we have another question from a last question.
It's Susan Collins, and it's actually not a question. I'd like to share something that was told to me by my nephew, who lives in downtown Toronto. What they found out, they’re a young couple with two small children, is that raccoons have no interest in diving into garbage bags that have dirty diapers. Rather humorous message. Not to say that you should line your garbage bag with dirty diapers, baby diapers, but they did say it's very effective because they don't have a lot of space to store their garbage in downtown Toronto, and the raccoons have no interest in the dumpster diving where there are dirty diapers.
Discerning trash pandas in Toronto, I take it. I wish my dog had the same reluctance to get into the diaper bin when we first started having that at home. Thank you for that closing note and thank you everyone for joining us this evening. I hope you found it informative. We will, as I said before, be posting the session on YouTube. If you want to, you can revisit it anytime you like. Thank you all and have a good evening.
Thank you. Thank you, everyone.