City asked to focus on composting

Earth Matters co-ordinator Bruce Edson made a presentation to the city earlier this week.

Earth Matters co-ordinator Bruce Edson wants the city to dedicate more resources to composting.

Bruce Edson wants the city to get serious about composting last week’s leftovers.

Edson, a co-ordinator with Earth Matters, presented the results of a survey on composting to Nelson city council on Monday. He also argued the city should consider hiring a staff position that would address the issue.

“I just don’t see a whole lot of planning engagement there right now,” said Edson. “I just think it would be in their interest to be proactive in the planning process rather than being reactive once the Regional District of Central Kootenay has their vision of what an organic diversion plan is.”

Nelson is currently responsible for waste pickup, while the RDCK operates the transfer station. The RDCK is set to develop a regional composting plan next year, and Edson wants Nelson focus on that eventuality.

“I think it’s going to cost the city quite a bit,” he said. “It would probably be important that they be as active as possible in trying to create a good plan.”

Earth Matters, which is a program of the West Kootenay EcoSociety, also sits on the RDCK’s waste advisory committee. The group distributed a survey in July asking residents several questions about composting.

Although the survey represents a small sample size, just 157 residents took part, it shows a local willingness to compost. Sixty-two per cent of respondents said they already compost, while 68 per cent said they were in favour of a centralized composting facility.

Edson said he was surprised by the survey results.

“I think people generally understand that throwing organics in the garbage is not a good idea just because it’s going to the landfill and it really doesn’t have to go to the landfill,” he said. “It’s a valuable resource for gardens. … People generally don’t like throwing organics in the garbage. But whether or not they want to pay for a system is another question.”

That system would likely require a facility of its own as well as extra collection costs. Sixty-one per cent of survey respondents said they would only pay up to $5 a month for household compost pickup and processing.

Edson said if expense weren’t an issue, the city would already have a composting service in place.

“Just doing what we’re doing now, which is throwing it in the landfill, is probably the cheapest solution,” he said. “I think that’s one reason why it’s been pushed forward so long. Once you start looking into it, it gets complicated and expensive. Especially in a rural area with our population.”

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