Once Maj. Sean Ward graduated from the city’s Master Composter Recycler program, it didn’t take long for his skills to be put to use.

Ward brought his composting expertise to war-torn communities outside the Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan, along with cutting down on landfill waste at the base.

The soldier would keep the coffee grounds from Tim Hortons and food waste from the kitchen at the base before turning the garbage into compost that could be used for local gardening.

“It was successful enough where I had three truckloads, and it allowed me to take my message to the local Afghans,” said Ward. “The other soldiers thought I was a bit strange, a little wacko.

But as they played Nintendo, I was out there turning my heap.”

Ward was among 661 graduates of the program celebrating its 20th anniversary at city hall yesterday.

The city says the grads have spent 35,000 hours of their time educating people on green waste management practices.

For more information on the program, check out www.edmonton.ca/waste.