By Barb Brouwer, Salmon Arm Observer
Keeping food waste out of the landfill is the latest initiative in the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan.
At the Nov. 19 board meeting in Salmon Arm, directors approved an Organics Diversion Strategy, including associated work plan and timeline – subject to the annual budget approval process.
Environmental Team Leader Ben Van Nostrand reminded directors that three items were identified as being top priority when the board approved an update to the solid waste management plan in April 2015.
— Collection and diversion of household organic wastes such as food and kitchen waste, along with the promotion of food waste reduction;
— Development of permanent household hazardous waste collection structures at CSRD refuse sites; and
— Continued adoption of existing curbside collection programs in urban and settlement areas where curbside is not currently available.
In August, staff hired Maura Walker & Associates (MWA) to draft an organics diversion strategy, based on its experience in implementing a successful organics diversion program in the Regional District of Nanaimo, as well as experience in solid waste management planning.
A workshop with staff from member municipalities, local businesses, haulers and compost facility operators was chaired by MWA on Sept. 10 in Salmon Arm.
The purpose of the workshop was to share components of a draft strategy, options related to organics processing, collection, regulation and enforcement, as well as communications and education.
“The input and feedback received at the workshop was incorporated into the development of MWA’s Organics Diversion Strategy for the CSRD,” wrote Van Nostrand in his report to the board.
He noted that in addition to regional district priorities for organic waste diversion, the Ministry of Environment has identified targets to be reached by 2020 for municipal solid waste programs: Lower the municipal solid waste disposal rate from 570 to 350 kilograms per person; and have 75 per cent of B.C.’s population covered by organic waste disposal restrictions.
“Implementation of the proposed organics diversion strategy will help to satisfy both of the Ministry of Environment’s key municipal solid waste goals,” Van Nostrand said.
The Organics Diversion Work Plan and Schedule for 2016 includes a financial evaluation of the regional district’s solid waste management plan to see if tipping fees need to be increased, a trial with food waste processing facility Spa Hills Farm near Salmon Arm with respect to capacity, and benefits of direct haul or transfer of organic matter from the landfill.
Also planned for 2016 is a ban on the disposal of commercial food waste at the Salmon Arm Landfill.
Plans for 2017 include trial residential food waste composting at the Salmon Arm and Revelstoke landfills, inception of a pilot curbside collection program in Salmon Arm and Revelstoke and an evaluation of Spa Hills Farms as a processing facility.
In 2018, the plan calls for implementation of a residential curbside collection in Salmon Arm based on the performance of Spa Hills Farm and/or the existing Salmon Arm Landfill composting facility.
Also in the plan for 2018 is an expansion of the food waste ban to include the residential sector within the Salmon Arm “waste shed” and provision of drop-off facilities at the Salmon Arm Landfill and rural transfer stations in the Salmon Arm waste shed for self-haul residential and Industry, commercial and Institutional (ICI) customers.
Residential curbside collection would be implemented in Revelstoke based on the performance of combined residential food and yard waste composting at the Revelstoke landfill.
At the same time the plan calls for an evaluation of options for commercial food waste processing within the Revelstoke waste shed.
A disposal ban on commercial and residential organic waste at the Revelstoke Landfill would be implemented in 2019 and drop-off facilities would be provided at the city’s landfill.
Van Nostrand pointed out implementation of the plan will require a comprehensive public consultation process including one-on-one meetings with businesses that will be impacted by the roll out of such a challenging waste diversion initiative.
“This strategy and ambitious work plan and schedule are aligned with the approved SWMP goal to eliminate organic waste from the landfills within the CSRD,” wrote Van Nostrand. “According to CSRD waste characterization studies conducted in 2013, approximately 30 per cent of the waste being landfilled is organic waste.”
Implementation of an organics diversion program will not only bring an environmental benefit by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the landfills, but will also bring an economic benefit by increasing the life span of existing landfills.
Directors endorsed the strategy unanimously with Mayor Mark McKee and Area B director Loni Parker expressing their approval.
“It’s great to move this forward; it’s important for the community to look at all waste including organics,” Parker said, echoing report findings on the benefit to the environment and reducing the high costs of closing landfills.
“It’s the responsible thing to do and finding other things to do with the material is important,” added McKee.