By Lizette Gilday

On Saturday, June 8, the Régie intermunicipale de gestion des matières résiduelles de Brome- Missisquoi opened their doors to the public in order to showcase their recently launched brown bin compost program. Groups of 15 to 20 interested citizens were given a tour of the composting facility.

The newly implemented composting program is a low tech, remarkably effective process. The collection trucks empty their organic materials onto the cement platform in rows, each truck has a number which indicates the exact neighbourhood the compost is from. This allows for quality control and even fines to those municipalities whose bins are contaminated with inappropriate materials.

The compost is then picked over for non-organic material which is removed. Once the cleaning is complete the compost is mixed with wood chips and allowed to begin its fermentation process. The rows are turned regularly with a large turning machine. The temperatures in the centre of the rows can be as high as 85 degrees Celsius. The whole process takes about four months during spring, summer and fall. In the winter the collection continues but the composting process is much slower. Once the earth is fully composted it will be made available to the citizens of Brome-Missisquoi as well as to the municipalities for landscaping.

The program is less than six months old and it has already allowed for 3,700 tons of organic waste to be diverted from the landfill site. Organic material in landfills produces methane gas as it is compacted and does not have access to oxygen. Methane gas is a much stronger contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide. Its impact can be up to 34 times greater than carbon dioxide over a one hundred year period. Composting, on the other hand, reduces greenhouse gas emissions.