With their garbage trucks nearing the end of their life and the regional district planning on curbside food waste pickup, the City of Revelstoke is considering privatizing garbage collection services.
Council has asked staff to look at contracting out garbage collection by contacting the city union and beginning the tendering process.
“We are looking at the whole thing about garbage collection because our trucks are falling apart,” said Mayor Mark Mckee.
“We’re unsure of what we’re going to be collecting in the future and we’re concerned if we go and buy a truck we’re going to have for six or eight years, that it may be the wrong kind of truck because food waste may be coming out of the garbage stream.”
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District endorsed an updated waste management plan last week that calls for curbside food waste pickup. The plan was first established in 2009 and the Board of Directors endorsed the update.
The plan calls for a ‘zero waste’ strategy that maximizes recycling, minimizes waste, reduces consumption and ensures that products are made to be reused, repaired or recycled back into nature or the marketplace. Other guiding principles include encouraging a 6R hierarchy – rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and manage residuals, the use of community-based social marketing techniques to get the word out and a commitment by CSRD to continue to finance the cost of residual waste disposal through a region-wide user-pay system.
According to Ben Van Nostrand, the manager of environmental health services for the regional district, food waste makes up more than 30 per cent of the garbage the CSRD collects.
“My goal in the next five years is to have curbside food waste programs in place in the CSRD,” he told the Review.
Council looked at the garbage truck issue last year. A report by Penny Page-Brittin, the city’s environmental sustainability coordinator, presented four options for garbage pickup, though none involved privatization. Manual collection was deemed the most expensive option, while the cheapest option would involve switching to a truck with a claw that could lift up garbage cans and dump their contents into the truck.
Page-Brittin’s report says 36.8 per cent of material in the Revelstoke landfill was compostable organics, while recyclable material like paper and plastic made up another 36.7 per cent.
With curbside recycling in place, curbside composting is next on the agenda. Van Nostrand said he has yet to calculate the costs of the program, but that would involve building an enclosed composting facility in Revelstoke.
“It’s not as simple as mixing it into our compost piles that we have going there now,” he said. “It would be more in depth to not create more of a bear problem than already exists in the community.”
Meanwhile, the uncertainty of when curbside food waste pickup will be implemented is creating a dilemma for the city, which needs a new garbage truck, but isn’t sure what kind.
“It makes sense to put off the city buying a truck in the short term because we don’t know what kind of truck we’re going to need — a conventional truck, or a truck that can carry two kinds of streams,” said McKee.
With files from Barb Brouwer, Black Press