top of page


  • What does compost smell like?
    Finished compost smells earthy. However, it is possible for it to have a slight hydrocarbon/charcoal smell. This is normal and is caused by the degradation of wood and bark used to make the compost. The compost is also in a sealed bag which causes the smell to build up. Once the bag is opened, the smell will dissipate. Does the steam rising from composting piles indicate odours being released? No. When the composting process is working properly, steam is always present. But it’s only visible in colder winter conditions. The steam shows that the microbes are aerobically digesting organics. There is no connection between steam and odour. In fact, a lack of steam would signal a breakdown in the process and potential odour issues.
  • What materials does CG accept for composting?
    We only accept organic materials for composting – in other words, material that was once living. Examples include:​ Yard waste – such as leaves, prunings, wood chips, grass clippings, sod/soil Food waste – such as vegetables, fruit, egg waste, grains, nuts Kitchen waste – such as soup stocks and cooking oil Paper products – such as towels, cardboard (waxed or wet okay), paper towels, shredded paper, waxed paper containers Biosolids from a local town with no industry base (good source of nitrogen) Straw
  • Is Cleanit Greenit reducing the amount of material it accepts?
    In 2011, the site held more than 93,000 cubic yards of materials. As of late October 2020, the site held 35,800 cubic yards of material. This significant reduction in material on-site plus the many other changes we have implemented, helps us to better control and prevent odour.
  • Is the product tested to ensure it’s safe before being offered to the public
    Cleanit Greenit's NatureMade™ compost has been graded as Category A (for unrestricted use), under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Guidelines for Compost Quality. Since 1996 our product has met the Category A criteria. We conduct this rigorous testing before distribution and required by government regulations. Our compost also contains a healthy microbial culture to fight off negative disease-spreading organisms found in weak soils. Once laboratory results are confirmed to be above the standard, the product is released for sale. What kind of testing is done to ensure regulations are followed at the site? We conduct all testing that is required by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). For example, groundwater monitoring is conducted by independent, third-party engineering consultants. The consultants have never found significant findings. We regularly, voluntarily monitor and sample for hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which is a common product of composting processes and is the main indicator of concern on compost sites. There have been no detections of H2S off-site. Does the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test CG’s compost? Yes. The CFIA regularly tests compost from all licenced compost producers, including Cleanit Greenit. These efforts are focused on verifying that products satisfy the safety standards for biological and chemical contaminants (pathogens, heavy metals, pesticide residues, etc.). Sometimes the CFIA will find the application rate of the compost needs to be adjusted to meet regulatory standards. When this occurs, we change the application rate (the ratio of compost mixed with soil) on our product labels.
  • How does the composting process help kill viruses?
    Composting is a heat-generating and biological process that effectively kills negative microbes and pathogenic viruses, similar to COVID-19, during the process. Research indicates that the use of composting, as one means of disposal during emergencies, is not only effective in deactivating pathogens, but also limits the risk of air pollution contamination (reference link Landfills, where most of our garbage goes, is not a heat-generating or biological process.
  • Can furans, dioxins and other organic contaminants be present in compost?"
    Dioxins and furans are common in small amounts in the environment, including air, water and soil. As a result of their presence in the environment and their persistent nature (don’t chemically break down), they are also present in some foods, especially meat, milk and related products. Many of these items are found in approved feedstock received by composting sites across North America. For this reason, it is possible for dioxins and furans to end up in our compost as we take residential organics as well as landscape material. For more information on furans and dioxins and the government’s efforts in reducing sources of these chemicals, refer to the following link:
  • Why did I find plastic in my compost?
    Our compost is produced from residential organic recycling programs. It is possible to have some foreign material in our compost. Regulatory agencies allow for the occasional piece of glass and plastic (both inert materials and have no effect on plant growth). We screen out these materials, but if you do find the occasional piece of glass or plastic, please pick it out and put it in the garbage.
  • Are there metals in our compost?
    Metals are naturally present in soil and some are essential micronutrients and macronutrients for plants. We have metals in our compost, in lower concentrations, which are of no health concern. Some metals, in small amounts, are needed by our bodies for good health. Our compost is tested for metals (those specified by the CCME guidelines) and is within limits for Category A compost.
  • What is Category A compost?
    Cleanit Greenit's NatureMade™ compost has been graded as Category A since 1996. Our compost has been tested against the CCME Guidelines for Compost Quality. Category A compost can be used in any application, such as agricultural lands, residential gardens, horticultural operations, the nursery industry and other businesses.
  • Why is my compost slightly wet and/or clumpy?
    The compost was double screened, but because we are an outdoor facility we are exposed to the elements, including precipitation. When wet, the compost may clump together. The clumps are made of 100% compost, not clay. The clumps will not affect plant growth. If you find clumps, water them until they break down.
  • What is compost normally used for in residential gardens and how do I use it?
    Compost, mixed with soil, can be used in your garden beds, potted plants and lawns. It's especially great for growing tomatoes and greener grass. ​ Apply up to 3.2 cm (1.25 inches) of compost in your garden and work into existing soil. When using compost as part of a soil mix, blend with a minimum of four parts of soil. Blend in one part of compost with a minimum of five parts of potting mix for potted plants and water well. ​ In the spring, top-dress established lawns with a 0.625 - 1.25 cm (¼ - ½ inches) layer, and water well. To prepare for a new lawn, till up to 3.2 cm (1.25 inch) of compost into the topsoil. To find out about how much compost you need for your garden and the exact measurements for it, check out this Compost Calculator.
  • What is boron and why can it be found in compost?
    Boron is a compound that can naturally be found through the weathering process of parent rock/minerals as well as decay of plant material, fruits and vegetables. Boron can generally be found in higher concentration in clays (common in Edmonton soils) as it adsorbs to clays more easily. ​ In moderation, boron is an essential micro-nutrient for plants and is essential for healthy plant growth. This website provides some interesting further reading on boron’ role in healthy crop growth:
  • Is it possible to find petroleum hydrocarbons (including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in compost?
    Generally, no and it is not a requirement for routine analysis under the CCME Guidelines. The CCME has Canada-wide standards for petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) analytical methods for F2 – F4 (products such as diesel, crude oil, bitumen, asphalt etc.). However, biogenic organic compounds (BOC) can be falsely detected as PHCs (specifically F3) in compost materials and therefore, PHC analysis for F3 can’t always be taken at face value. In these instances, a Biogenic Interference Calculation Scale should be used to determine if exceedances are false.
  • What height should the piles be at the Cleanit Greenit site?
    For active piles, where we pump air into them and microbes are breaking down organic matter, the height is 4.3 meters. Piles that are curing or finished can be any height. A pile is in curing stage when the break-down of organic matter has slowed down. The higher piles you see at the site are the finished or curing piles.
  • Should neighbours be worried about their health from CG composting odours?
    Studies have shown the risk to human health from outdoor compost-site odour and particulates is very low to zero. Smells are a nuisance but not a health risk.
  • Why has CG not complied with the 2011 enforcement order?
    We have worked diligently to complete the requirements of the order. Now, we are co-ordinating with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to ensure we have completed everything asked of us.
  • What is CG doing to reduce smells from its facility?
    We are improving our ability to control smells. Key actions include: Doubling the number of aeration pipes, as recommended by experts. Reducing the total tonnage of compostable material accepted and stopped accepting several types of potentially smelly material. Bringing in a composting specialist to review our procedures and provide further training in best practices for our industry. Increasing the use of biofiltration. Biofilters use moist organic materials as a cover to adsorb and then biologically degrade odorous compounds. Hiring more dedicated odour patrollers over the past year to increase coverage and response time.
  • What do “odour patrollers” actually do?
    Each time they go out, patrollers drive to seven regular locations in our greater west-end area where odour has been detected. Patrollers get out of the car at each location and sniff the air. They record data such as wind direction and any smells and their intensity at each location, and whenever possible they interview people living or working there. We use human patrollers rather than depending on machines because the human nose can detect about 2,000 different smells. The best machines can only detect about 20. Cleanit Greenit staff patrol the surrounding area a minimum of three times per week, in addition to formal odour complaints. This is adjusted seasonally to protect the welfare of our odour patrollers, particularly during extremely cold weather. Compost sites degrade organic waste. We try to do this aerobically with air, as this reduces odour to a huge extent. In composting, zero odour is not possible. When we moved to our site in 1999, we had few neighbours. Today, we have many neighbourhoods moving in around us. The patrollers do their best to get data on sources and wind direction to help put tools in place to reduce our odour. We cannot stop other sources.
  • Are prions from bovine (cattle, sheep, deer, etc.) that get into compost a concern? "
    Latest studies show that, after composting this material, “99.9% of the prions had been destroyed” (McAllister, et al., 2013). Reference here
  • How do I report an odour in my neighbourhood that I suspect could be from Cleanit Greenit?
    Call our complaint line at 780-818-3128 and report the odour. We require: ​ Name of complainant (first and last name) Location including address or intersection Intensity out of 10 (10 being the worst) Description of the odour Time the odour was first noticed and if it is ongoing If all the above information is provided and express consent is given, we will notify AEP and submit the information to them promptly. We will then receive an AEP reference number and send an odour patroller to investigate.
  • Why can’t CG eliminate odours?
    By its nature, the composting process produces smells. We can never get to zero odour, but we can reduce it. We are doing everything we can to prevent and reduce odour. We are improving. Key actions taken include: ​ Doubling the number of aeration pipes, as recommended by experts. Reducing the total tonnage of compostable material accepted and stopped accepting several types of potentially smelly material. Bringing in a composting specialist to review our procedures and provide further training in best practices for our industry. Increasing the use of biofiltration. Biofilters use moist organic materials as a cover to adsorb and then biologically degrade odorous compounds. Hiring more dedicated patrollers over the past year to increase coverage and response time. No, there are many other sources including sour wells, asphalt in road construction, a recycling plant next door to the composting site, pet food manufacturing, dry landfills, the Big Lake sewage lift station and Big Lake. These sources can also layer (multiples smells combining) and move to certain locations especially low-lying houses next to Big Lake. Sometimes our neighbours three kilometres away sense a mix of combined smells from different sources. Other confirmed sources are area sewers, gas wells, a recycling plant next to Cleanit Greenit, pet food manufacturing, Big Lake, west-end dry landfills, and road construction. ​ In a few cases, the smells are suspected to be from within a residential home. This is common in Alberta and is solved by pouring water into your sump. Many common causes may trigger a sewer gas smell in a house. They include biofilm accumulation, a dry P-trap, buildup in the overflow, or an improperly installed or cut vent pipe. The solution could be as simple as pouring water into your drain, running the sewer or cleaning the buildup in your drain, depending on the cause. ​ The new neighbourhoods of Trumpeter, Starling, and Hawks Ridge may be at a lower elevation than our composting site and receive a mix of all the above-mentioned odours when conditions are right. We are further investigating and will update the community when we have more information. ​ We hear the concerns of the community and are doing everything we can to prevent and reduce odours from our facility.
  • Can I get the results of my odour investigation?
    Yes, CG posts the results of its odour investigations for 24 hours on our website. View them here.
  • What is the connection between compost amendments and soil-borne plant diseases?
    The presence of soil-borne plant diseases in one’s garden or farm will negatively impact the yield and quality of the plants or crops. Compost has been proven to support a more balanced soil microbiome by providing active, organic fuel for beneficial fungi and bacteria colonies. This prevents the overgrowth of harmful, nematode transmitted plant diseases in soil. Just like you may consume yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other probiotic-rich foods to support a more resilient gut microbiome, your soil can also benefit from compost amendments that foster a diverse and healthy microbiome balance. Reference Here
  • Does compost have the ability to improve human health?
    There is preliminary science to support that incorporating compost into your garden or farm has the ability to improve your own health in multiple ways. Firstly, by substituting the use of fast acting chemical fertilizers with compost, you eliminate your exposure to potentially carcinogenic compounds. This takes some detoxifying burden off of your liver, and may reduce your risk of cancer. Secondly, the nutrient supplement that compost gives to your backyard garden (think of it like a multivitamin and probiotic), can improve the health of your fruits and vegetables by reducing soil-borne pathogens and improving nutrient uptake in plants, giving you more vitamins per bite. Lastly, hand-mixing compost into your garden’s soil provides a great opportunity to incorporate more microbial diversity into your own body, which helps bolster your immune system and digestive health! Reference HERE
  • How does applying compost to gardens and farms affect soil quality?
    Applying Grade A compost to soil improves its water holding capacity, or the soil’s ability to retain water and prevent dryness and erosion. Compost improves soil structure and reduces bulk density, thus allowing for less soil compaction and greater root penetration. Longer, sturdier roots means healthier plants! The organic matter in compost provides valuable active fuel for beneficial bacteria and fungi within the soil microbiome. A diverse and resilient soil microbiome protects plants from harmful soil-borne pathogens. Reference HERE
  • Is compost good for my gut?
    A: Yes! Eating food that has been grown using compost balances your gut microbiomes, where 80% of your microbes are, and also aids in digestion. Since 1940, important minerals in our food have decreased 30-90% due to use of fertilizers and monofarming (farms growing only one type of large crop). Don’t eat the compost straight from the bag though, it’s still dirt and can contain harmful bacteria. Reference: G. Munroe (2021, June 17), Preparing the Ground for Healthy Soil: Webinar 5 featuring Soil Health, Plant Health, Human Health in Landscaping, The Compost Council of Canada.

Want to find out how much compost do you need?

Check out this compost calculator


  • During composting micro-organisms convert nitrogen into a less volatile form allowing longer material storage times and the ability to use the compost at your convenience.

  • Compost encourages healthy plant growth and provides organic matter

  • Quality finished compost produced is a slow release, nutrient rich material and when added to soil will improve soil structure, texture, aeration and water holding capabilities.

  • Compost encourages a green and lush lawn.

  • 3 for 30 – 3” of compost reduces 30% of your water needs.

  • It improves soil aeration for root development.

  • 60% of waste going to landfills is organic and can be composted! By composting, we are able to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills and reduce greenhouse gases.

  • Compost can control soil-borne diseases and insects.  The  thermophilic temperatures that naturally occur during composting destroy pathogens and weed seeds (just like in milk pasteurization).

  • Mixing compost with soil will control erosion, increase soil fertility, maintain proper pH balance and promote healthy root development in plants.

  • Compost has higher nutrient levels than peat moss.

bottom of page