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Kitchen bins distributed as Summerland food scraps collection begins

Food wastes will be collected separately from other garbage beginning April 2
Joe Mitchell, director of works and infrastructure for Summerland, shows a kitchen food waste bin. The municipality will distribute bins to homes in the community in March. Beginning April 2, garbage collection will change as the municipality moves to collect food waste separate from other garbage. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Summerland is implementing a food waste collection program, beginning April 2.

Under this program, mixed yard waste and residential food waste will be put in the green yard waste bins, which will then be collected every week.

Similar programs have been put in place in many B.C. communities.

The black garbage bins, now collected weekly, will be collected every two weeks. Recyclables, in the blue bins, will be collected every two weeks, with no change to the collection schedule.

The change in the garbage collection service is intended to reduce pressures on the community’s landfill and could extend the life of the facility.

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READ ALSO: Garbage collected every 2 weeks as Summerland begins food waste program

Speaking at an open house on Feb. 29, Cameron Baughen, solid waste management coordinator with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said Summerland has the highest cost for handling garbage in the Okanagan. The costs are $250 a tonne. Tipping fees are half that amount, with the rest subsidized by taxes in the community. Composting food and yard waste is $65 a tonne.

“We have a very efficient landfill, but costs are high because of the small size of the community,” he said.

The program has the potential to divert more than 700 tonnes of material from the landfill and to reduce the equivalent of more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year from food waste diversion.

Baughen said more than 70 per cent of the waste materials generated in Summerland are compostable or recyclable materials. The amount of kitchen waste alone is estimated at 39 per cent of household garbage in Summerland, he said.

To assist in the transition to the food waste collection program, the municipality will deliver kitchen catcher food waste bins to homes in the community beginning March 9. The bins will also contain instructions on how to use them.

Food waste, serviettes, and food-stained paper plates are allowed with the kitchen wastes.

Plastics, even those marked as compostable, are not permitted. Dog wastes and used facial tissue or toilet paper with human waste cannot go in with the food wastes. The stickers found on fruit cannot go into the food waste bin, but fruit and peels are permitted.

“Knowing what to put in the bins is very important,” Baughen said. A full recycling guide will be provided.

He added that the food wastes should be kept inside until collection day. If wastes are left in an outside container, they will attract bears and other wildlife.

In September 2023, the municipality opened an aerated static pile compost facility at the landfill. This was designed to compost wastewater treatment sludge and residential food waste.

In March, Summerland will distribute kitchen catcher units to households in the community.

The municipality is also producing a video about the change to the garbage collection service.

The Clean BC — Organics Infrastructure and Collection Program has provided two-thirds of funding, up to $451,639, for the implementation of a curbside food waste collection program. The remaining one-third of the costs will come from existing reserves.

At present, more than 3.9 million British Columbians live in communities with a food scrap collection system in place.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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