As city moves to organic waste collection, the questions pile up

In the first of two online information sessions, queries revolved around odour, schedules and the possibility of opting out of the program.

Odour, collection schedules and backyard composters are subjects of queries as the City of Kamloops engages the public about curbside organic waste collection.

On Wednesday (April 14), the city held an online information session, during which a handful of residents heard about what would be accepted, how the program would work and how to provide feedback and ask questions of the city.

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The city’s solid waste services analyst, Marcia Dick, said organic waste collection is simpler than recycling. Generally, if it comes from a plant or animal — it can be composted.

Dick said organics account for an estimated 38 per cent of household waste. Accepted products will include food scraps like vegetable peelings, bones, dairy, fat, meat, oil and soiled paper, such as dirty paper plates, pizza boxes, napkins and fast food packaging. In addition, a small amount of yard and garden waste and small pet beddings are expected to be accepted.

Acceptance of compostable plastics and dog feces is yet to be determined.

In practice, Dick said, residents would receive an outdoor bin (in other communities, it is a green bin), indoor container and information package. It is unclear at this stage if liners for indoor bins will be accepted and Dick suggested lining the indoor containers with newspaper or scrap paper to keep the container clean and prevent odour.

“We don’t know for sure whether other types of bin liners, like compostable plastic bags, would be accepted until we know where the material would be going,” Dick said.

Currently, there is no place in Kamloops to compost organics on a large scale, Dick said, but the city has identified several composting facilities in the surrounding area and plans to put out a bit for a minimum Class A compost produced from the collected organics.

BY THE BINS

When indoor bins are filled with organics by residents, one then empties it into the outdoor curbside collection container, similarly to garbage or recycling. Dick suggested layering the outside bin with dry materials, such as dried leaves, yard waste or dried grass clippings, to minimize odour and keep bins clean. If dried yard waste is unavailable, one can wrap food waste in newspaper or cardboard, Dick said.

The bins are proposed to be collected weekly by the city and residents would be encouraged to rinse bins regularly with a hose and soap or vinegar. Dick said cart management — layering materials, washing carts and proper storage — not only reduces odour, but also prevents attracting vermin and wildlife.

Dick said as part of a survey underway by the city, the most common questions received through a question and answer component revolves around collection schedules. Dick said the city has looked at other communities and a common model is the aforementioned weekly organic waste collection, along with alternating biweekly recycling and garbage collection.

She said it will be tested during the pilot program, launching this fall in select, yet-to-be-determined neighbourhoods. Dick said the city is confident residents could adapt to biweekly garbage collection, based on feedback from other communities. When organic waste is diverted from those bins, Dick said what remains is “quite minimal.”

Non-recyclable nor compostable materials include plastic utensils, some multi-material packaging, toothpaste tubes, dental floss, stickers, glittery paper, heavily painted paper and calking tubes.

By taking organics out of garbage bins, there will be less trash. However, Dick said some people are concerned about moving to biweekly recycling collection. Removing organics from garbage bins will not reduce a household’s amount of recycling. She said the city will be examining that during the pilot program.

OPTING OUT?

Meanwhile, backyard composters have asked to be able opt out of an organics waste collection program, but Dick said it is unknown at this time whether that will be an option.

The research stage by Kamloops has thus far found only one city that has allowed residents to opt out of the program — Gibsons — which, Dick said, advised the city against an opt-out option. In order to opt out, Gibsons’ residents are required to prove they divert 100 per cent of the organic material and only three per cent of residents meet that criteria, Dick said.

She said one of the goals of the city’s organics waste collection program is to get as much organic waste out of landfills as possible. If people can opt out, will the city reach its waste diversion targets?

Dick said the city needs to better understand how much organic waste is being composted in backyards.

“I’m a backyard composter and I can fully understand that people might not want to participate or even pay for a program that they don’t feel they need,” she said.

“But I also know there’s a lot of things you shouldn’t compost in your backyard because they attract vermin and there’s also items that can be accepted in the organics collection program that are more difficult to compost in your backyard. Those would be things like paper plates and napkins.”

By taking organic waste out of the landfill, the city estimates it can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2,800 tonnes per year. Dick explained that when organics break down in a landfill, the do so without air, generating methane gas. The byproduct of composting is carbon dioxide, less harmful to the atmosphere. In addition, composting of organic waste is expected to save the city $1 million per year in deferral of capital costs for landfills.

The city is hosting another virtual information session on Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. For more information and to complete a survey, go online to https://letstalk.kamloops.ca/organics. Those who participate in the survey have an opportunity to enter a draw for one of three $100 gift certificates to a local garden/landscaping company. The survey is open until May 18.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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