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 organic waste diversion was one of three top-priority items when the board approved an update to the solid waste management plan in April 2015.
In August, staff hired Maura Walker & Associates (MWA) to draft an organics diversion strategy. 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 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 and a trial with food waste processing facility Spa Hills Farm with respect to capacity.
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 landfill, inception of a pilot curbside collection program in Salmon Arm 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.
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,” says 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 reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the landfills and increase the life span of existing landfills.
Directors endorsed the strategy unanimously and, in some cases, enthusiastically.
Area D director Rene Talbot went so far as to tell the board he is quite prepared to offer money from his gas tax fund to do a pilot project in rural areas to see if the rural pick-up is feasible.
Salmon Arm director Chad Eliason praised Van Nostrand for a presentation he recently made to city council and offered enthusiastic support for the plan.
“We’re excited by the project and to be on the leading edge,” he said. “Thank you for the report, and hard work.”