Don’t be surprised if chunks of frozen food waste intended for the city’s compost program are still in your green, wheeled bin after collection day – at least if that waste was unbagged or there was nothing to keep it from sticking to the bin.
In a Dec. 18 Facebook post, the City of Salmon Arm asked that residents consider using certified compostable bags for food/compostable waste going into the green bins provided by the city.
Prompting this request was feedback from the city’s curbside collector, SCV Waste Solutions, regarding food waste found frozen inside the bins.
“As temperatures drop our collector is finding that food waste is freezing in green bins and they are unable to empty them,” reads the post.
Speaking on the issue, city engineering assistant Jon Mills explained the frozen food waste can pose other issues for collectors who are expecting a bin’s contents (weighing no more than 10 kgs or 22 lbs) to simply slide out.
“If you’ve got this big mass of food waste sitting in a bin, it all congeals and it’s like a big Popsicle that isn’t going to come out,” said Mills. “There’s also a risk… if they pick it up and try to dump it, just from a weight perspective, it could potentially cause injury.”
A tidier option, said Mills, is to place food waste and other compostables in certified compostable bags before they’re placed into curbside collection bins. He warns this does not include bags that are labeled “bio-degradable” or “oxo-degradable.”
One alternative to bags involves placing compostable waste inside a compostable cereal box before it goes into the bin. Another option is lining the bottom of the green bin with other compostable materials such as newsprint or pizza boxes. With these, however, if moisture seeps through there may again be the issue of waste freezing to the bins.
The bag option is also appreciated in the summer, when collectors have to contend with the smell of the decomposing food waste.
“One other comment I would make when it comes to the advantages of bagging food waste is that in the summer, the small kitchen catcher bags can be put in a freezer, if necessary, until collection day (freezer space permitting of course)…,” said Mills. “In general, using bags in the summer can certainly help keep flies out and prevent maggots, and makes emptying the bin easier. Even in the summer, food waste that isn’t in bags can stick to the sides and bottom – so it doesn’t all get collected.”
Mills suggested it’s more cost effective to just use the smaller kitchen compost bags that fit the small bins the city distributed to residents when it rolled out its compost program in 2019.
“Some people I speak to complain it’s an added cost to buy the bags, but at the end of the day it’s a trade-off, either you’ve got this mess you’ve got to clean out or in the winter it’s frozen and doesn’t get collected…,” said Mills.
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