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Nelson rolls out FoodCyclers in Fairview

Program will reduce weight and volume of organic waste by 90 per cent, city says
Emily Mask is pre-treated organics program co-ordinator at the City of Nelson. She introduced the FoodCycler during an event Oct. 4. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Mayor Janice Morrison says that since she started using her FoodCycler appliance two years ago she only has to take out her garbage every six weeks.

This is because grinding and dehydrating the organic waste and turning it into a dry powder in the countertop machine reduces her garbage volume significantly.

Morrison was speaking at the launch of the rollout of the pre-treated organics pilot program for Fairview held at the Prestige Lakeside Inn and Resort on Oct. 4.

Pre-treated organics program co-ordinator Emily Mask explained that there are now 700 FoodCycler appliances in Nelson homes, and distribution to residents in the pilot Fairview area is underway.

She said Fairview residents can register online at, after which they will be invited to come and pick up their appliance and receive a brief orientation session. For residents not able to do this, city staff will deliver the appliance to the home.

“From our unique approach to collections to our hands-on education platform, and the resources we have to offer, we are really confident in what we have to offer today …,” said Mask. “We are committed to empowering residents with the knowledge to divert organic waste from their own houses so that they are proud to do so.”

The city-owned countertop FoodCycler appliances reduce the volume and weight of kitchen waste by about 90 per cent, resulting in a nearly odourless residue that can be put in a garden or compost, or placed in a neighbourhood receptacle to be picked up by waste collection crews. The city says this process will reduce greenhouse gases by eliminating truck transport to a landfill, and by avoiding the production of the greenhouse gas methane in the landfill.

Lack of organic matter in garbage is also expected to reduce the number of bears in the city.

Mask unveiled a program guide and a new video that explains how to obtain, operate and care for the appliance and what to do with the dehydrated organic matter it produces. It can be viewed at

Jessica Taylor of the appliance’s manufacturer, Food Cycle Science, told the meeting that the appliances have a life cycle of seven-to-10 years, and that the company will assist the city in setting up a local repair facility. At the end of their life the appliances can be taken to the electronics recycling section at the Nelson Leafs depot in Nelson.

Taylor said her company is now in discussions with about 100 municipalities in the country who are exploring programs similar to Nelson’s, but that the Nelson program is the most advanced.

The countertop appliance FoodCycler will be provided to 1,600 Nelson residents. It grinds and dehydrates kitchen waste, reducing its volume and weight by about 90 per cent. Photo: Submitted

Mask said the appliances during their nine-hour cycle use about 1.5-kilowatt hours of electricity, about the same as a computer left running for the same period of time.

Residents outside the city limits or who live in apartment buildings within the city are not eligible for the program at this time.

The residue from the dehydration process, which the city calls a soil amendment, can be used as fertilizer in home gardens or can be taken to one of two collection sites in Nelson, one at the city public works yard at 80 Lakeside Drive, and the other at First Street and Behnsen Street, behind Safeway. From there the residue will be taken to the new RDCK composting facility near Salmo.

Mask explained the carbon filters in the machine can be replaced free of charge at Safeway and other Nelson locations.

The program will be evaluated, Mask said, by measuring the decrease in volume and weight of waste picked up by garbage trucks, by tracking the decrease in the number of garbage of tags purchased, by noting the recovery rates of residue dropped off at the drop-off stations, and by surveying users about their experience of using the appliances.

After the evaluation is complete, city council will decide whether to extend the program to the entire city.

It’s not clear how expensive the pilot has been. The budgeted cost as of April 1, 2023, was $1,061,440, of which the city would cover $327,990.

The City of Nelson has not clarified whether the project is within budget or what extending the program to the rest of the city would cost.

RDCK director Garry Jackman, addressing the meeting, acknowledged that Nelson is taking an innovative approach that is unique in Canada.

“To solve these global problems we cannot continue to just discard what we no longer value and pile dirt on top of it,” he said.

He said the need to reduce methane production in landfills is an urgent problem, and the organics program will help. He said the RDCK contributed $37,000 to the cost of the drop-off sites.

Tracy Punchard of Selkirk College told the meeting that since purchasing its industrial-scale FoodCycler a year ago, the Professional Cook Program at the Tenth Street Campus has cut its dumpster pickups in half and has diverted 10,815 litres, or more than 10,000 pounds, of organic waste from the landfill.


Nelson to launch countertop food waste treatment pilot in spring

Nelson’s organic waste program to be piloted in Fairview

• Residential countertop food waste appliances will remain Nelson city property

Nelson receives $395K federal grant for FoodCycler program

Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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