Town of Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia
Eliminating waste by 2005
Zero Waste 2005 is the Town of Annapolis Royal's low-tech, low-cost and locally managed waste management initiative. To help achieve its waste-free goal, the town implemented this comprehensive project in 1999 to facilitate local composting of waste. Using food-and-waste digesters (Green Cones), along with traditional backyard composting units and Earth Tubs, the majority of households and businesses can now process all food and yard wastes in Annapolis Royal - an achievement that delivers cost savings to the community.
In 1996, the Municipality of Annapolis County, which surrounds the Town of Annapolis Royal, disbanded its teepee-type incinerator after Nova Scotia banned such facilities. This type of incinerator burned mixed residual solid waste. In addition, the province introduced an incremental banning of certain materials from landfill to force all municipal governments into solid waste recycling and composting programs. Annapolis Royal had to find a solution to its new waste disposal problem.
"We were being forced to go down this road. The old days were gone," said Annapolis Royal Deputy Mayor Trish Fry. "We had to find a cheap, productive way to get rid of our waste, so it was just a matter of finding the most feasible way of doing it."
Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment had divided the province into seven waste regions, joining Annapolis County and neighbouring King's County to form region five. The eight municipalities in the region developed a waste management plan that included the creation of a regional waste authority. This body would take over responsibility for curbside recycling and compost pickup, landfill garbage pickup and household hazardous waste disposal. In late 1997, Annapolis Royal opted out.
"The region was going with curbside composting and was going to truck the material all the way to Halifax," said Fry. "We chose to go off in our own direction instead of jumping on the bandwagon. By and large people here are really happy with that."
With the help of the Annapolis County Environmental Protection Agency (ACEPA), a volunteer activist organization, the community developed its own local waste management strategy. In 1998, Annapolis Royal and ACEPA entered into a partnership to design and implement Zero Waste 2005.
This successful project has:
- achieved a conservatively estimated landfill diversion rate of 53 per cent by early 2000;
- saved the town $15,000 a year by allowing it to opt out of the regional waste authority; and
- received national and international recognition; for example, in 1998, the United Nations placed Zero Waste 2005 on its prestigious list of Global Best Practices for Human Settlements. The Sierra Club featured Zero Waste 2005 in its 2001 Calendar.
- Annapolis Royal carefully researched how homeowners could properly use Green Cones for backyard composting; other communities had used the cones and experienced serious problems.
- Earth Tubs are not easy to use; Annapolis Royal's were the first two in Canada. Public works staff spent many hours learning about them and has suggested improvements for future versions.
- Critics of the waste management program have said that initiatives that rely heavily on volunteers usually don't last; volunteers burn out and lose interest. Annapolis Royal has learned that volunteer support and community participation go hand in hand.