- Our Town
Recyclables crowding landfill
Almost half of the material going into the Salmon Arm landfill should be going elsewhere.
A two-week waste audit performed by Tri Environmental Consulting Inc. Sept. 3 to 18 at four Columbia Shuswap Regional District reveals that while there has been some improvement since the 2006 waste audit, the landfill is still at risk of contamination and a shortened lifespan because of items that don’t belong in the landfill.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District waste management co-ordinator Ben Van Nostrand said the recent study looked at loads from the residential curbside program, residential self-haul, the industrial commercial sector and the rural transfer stations.
Auditors took 26 samples, each weighing about 100 kg of the various loads that arrive at the landfill.
“They go through that with a fine tooth comb, breaking it down into more than 100 primary, secondary and tertiary categories,” says Van Nostrand,
“Overall, when you look at all the categories and streams that came in, about 24 per cent of that is compostable organics. We need to move ahead with a compostable food waste system.”
Paper and plastic at 17.4 per cent and 17.2 per cent respectively were the next largest categories.
Collectively, paper and compostable organics form almost half of the waste stream arriving at the Salmon Arm landfill.
Building materials such as dirt were the net largest contributor at 9.8 per cent, most of which was self-hauled, followed by electronic waste at 9.1 per cent.
While electronic waste was found in all waste streams, the greatest quantity was from the industrial, commercial and institutional sector (ICI).
Household hazardous wastes were also found in all waste streams, arriving at the landfill, primarily from residential curb side program, ICI and residential self-haul, mainly consisting of paint and automotive products.
“There appears to be higher proportions of compostable organics in the residential curbside program, building materials in the residential self-haul sector, electronic waste in ICI, bulky objects in material brought in from transfer stations and paper in the ICI and residential curb program,” says Tri Environmental Consulting’s executive summary. “The waste composition for residential self-haul and ICI sectors show a larger standard deviation for all primary waste categories than the residential curb side and transfer station sectors.”
Van Nostrand says the findings are in line with other CSRD landfills and other jurisdictions.
CSRD plans to review its 2009 solid waste management plan next year and will involve the public.
“We want to see how the CSRD is doing with the five-year review of the solid plan,” says Van Nostrand, pointing out the biggest gain will be through the organic waste sector, something that will coincide nicely with Materials Management BC taking over curb side collection of printed paper and packaging.
“We’ll potentially be putting the savings towards a curbside organic waste system, with the hopes of implementing something like that in 2015.”
Van Nostrand says the regional district will also work with agencies to better capture items included in various stewardship programs.
“Electronic power tools and batteries are free to take back to Bill’s Bottle Depot. There’s no excuse,” he says. “They’re causing contamination at the landfill and shorten its life.”
Van Nostrand sees a need for more public education and audits of incoming loads.
Is it an education thing or is it an enforcement issue?” he asks. “We try to educate, educate, educate, but at the end of the day, sometimes monetary penalties are needed to change the behaviour.”
The full report will be available at www.csrd.bc.ca.