A Salmon Arm woman who received a faulty compost bin was horrified when she found flies and maggots feasting within.
When Tracy Hughes received her new curbside food compost bin—distributed by the City of Salmon Arm, along with a small kitchen compost bin and a blue bin for recyclables, all for the revamped curbside collection program effective July 1—she noticed the lid would not close to form a proper seal. Not thinking much of it, she went to purchase city-approved compostable bags (labelled BPI) to use in the compost bins only to find most local stores had sold out.
Over the next week, following a list of compostable materials provided by the city, Hughes made use of the green bin. After a few days, however, she found something more than rotting compost in the bin and shared her discovery on a public Salmon Arm Facebook page.
“I didn’t want to photo this too close, but let’s just say that is not white rice on the outside of the bin,” said Hughes. Along with the stench coming from the bin, flies and maggots were working on decomposing the food inside as well. Hughes attributes this problem with the faulty seal on the lid.
“I really want to do this and I know its a good thing, but I don’t want to be dry heaving in my driveway. The smell was horrible the maggots were horrible.”
Hughes’ Facebook post garnered more than 300 comments from people voicing their disgust, as well as some similar experiences other people were having with their compost bins.
Some commenters advised Hughes to freeze her compost before putting it into the bin, something she said isn’t practical for her family.
“I have three kids and a freezer that’s pretty full. To be freezing all this stuff all the time and then putting it in there is going to be a bit of an issue,” she said.
Fortunately, Wes Birkett, an employee of SCV Waste Solutions, the contractor for the city waste removal program, saw and responded to Hughes’ post. He asked that she put the faulty bin out so he could take it away and bring her a new one. With Vicks VapoRub under her nose (a trick she learned on CSI), Hughes gratefully obliged and now has a bin that can be fully sealed, as well as plenty of compost bags to help reduce the smell.
“Change is hard for people, I know this is a good thing but, on the other hand, if it’s really disgusting I’m worried people are just going to give up and just put it in their garbage instead,” she said.
Carson Dorward, owner-operator of SCV, said the reason for the bins not closing properly is due to the plastic warping during shipping.
The company has received a few phone calls with similar issues and SCV has either told the callers how to fix the problem over the phone or visited residents to fix or replace the bins.
“We are just trying to start off on the right foot with the community and supporting the city and their program,” Dorward said. “They’ve been good to work with, so why not work with everybody and have people happy with us.”
Regarding residents concerned their compost bin will become bear attractant, Dorward said only time will tell if that will be the case.
“That same material was sitting in their garbage can last week. This week it’s just in a green bin right beside their garbage can, so I don’t see that making a whole lot of difference,” Dorward said.
Large compost bags can be found at Save-On-Foods and smaller ones at downtown Askew’s. While Canadian Tire was sold out of the bags last week, they are now fully stocked on both sizes.
Large blue recycling bins, another hot commodity, are sold out and on backorder at some stores. However, labels are available from the City of Salmon Arm that can be used to mark bins or cans designated for curbside recycling.