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Kamloops could have organic waste collection by 2023

City council has asked staff to look into grant funding for a program designed to divert organic materials from the landfill
organic waste

Kamloops residents could have food scraps and other organic waste picked up at the curb by Canada Day 2023.

On Tuesday (Nov. 24), council heard details of a long-awaited curbside organic waste collection program and authorized staff to pursue grant funding. The program is estimated to cost $5.7 million. Council heard the program is proposed to be phased in, including a trial in some neighbourhoods next year, before full-scale rollout citywide in July of 2023.

Coun. Kathy Sinclair said she is excited to see the program be considered.

“I think it’s long overdue for our city,” she said.

A staff report on the program notes there is $3.6-million worth of capital costs for carts and additional collection vehicles and operators. In addition, ongoing program cost would be $1.7 million, with a one-time $400,000 charge for staff time and public engagement.

The city is eying two potential funding opportunities: the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund and provincial Clean BC Program. Half of the costs for staff time and the pilot project could be eligible for funding, as well as a significant portion of the capital costs, the staff report notes. Other cost recovery measures could include bin fees. Diversion would also free up landfill space.

Staff said implementation is multiple steps away.

“This is a conceptual idea at this point,” civic operations director Jen Fretz said.

The city is falling well short of its waste diversion goals. The Sustainable Kamloops Plan includes reducing waste to the landfill to 300 kilograms per person by 2020 and 100 kilograms per person by 2050. In 2019, the city’s landfill waste was more than 700 kilograms per person.

The city’s solid waste services analyst, Marcia Dick, said organics diversion would help. The city estimates between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of all landfill waste is organic materials and a waste composition study showed 35 per cent of residential waste going to Mission Flats Landfill is organic.

“To meet our waste reduction targets, we must go after this portion of the waste stream,” Dick said.

Meanwhile, the city is looking to engage the public. Many details have yet to be fleshed out, including collection frequency, bin size, applicable products and whether residents would have the opportunity to opt out should they already be composting organics at home.

A report to council notes staff are recommending including in the program fruits and vegetables, grains, breads, pasta, meats, fish and poultry (including shells and bones), coffee grinds, tea bags, soups, sauces, solid and semi-solid dairy, soiled paper (napkins, paper towel and food-contaminated paper like pizza boxes and fast food packaging), waxed paper and boxes, small amounts of garden waste, fallen fruit, grass clippings and leaves.

Some collection options seen in other communities include weekly pickup alongside recycling and garbage collection, weekly rotation with garbage or seasonal pickup. One potential issue is what to do with the end product. Some councillors expressed concern about a proposed plan to temporarily stockpile the organic waste and contract out service to a private processing facility, harkening to the issues faced with biosolids.