The City of Nelson wants to increase the number of homes composting their food waste, as a way to reduce the green house gas emissions associated with hauling household waste to the landfill.
With the new transfer station near Pacific Insight slated to open next spring, the garbage collection crew will have to drive a few extra kilometres to drop off their loads. If there’s less garbage, the trucks could be emptied less frequently and therefore burn less fuel.
And there’s other benefits, as Councillor Paula Kiss pointed out at last week’s city council meeting where she spoke in favour of a motion to form a new committee to oversee an assessment of composting options for the city.
“Organics are a resource … the byproduct is soil we can use in the city parks,” Kiss said.
The motion was proposed by Councillor Donna Macdonald, who also recommended that a consultant be hired to complete the assessment and paid an amount not exceeding $15,000, using money from the Recycling Reserve Account.
The majority of council supported the motion, though Mayor John Dooley tried to advice them against it. Dooley sits on the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s resource recovery plan advisory committee. He said the RDCK plans to start a feasibility study for a centralized composting facility in 2014.
“Why would we pay for one [study for Nelson] when we’re already paying for one by the Regional District? It’s paying for the same thing twice,” Dooley said.
Several councillors were concerned the RDCK wouldn’t stick to its timeline and, if the study was done, it would assume organics would be processed at the Ootischenia landfill near Castlegar. Kiss added that the city’s not paying twice if the respective studies look at different things.
“If our preferred option is local processing, it will help us to have done our research on that, so we can give that information to the RDCK when they start their study,” Kiss said.
Councillor Deb Kozak, the only one to oppose the motion when it came time to vote, suggested the decision be put off until the next budget cycle so that all options for how to fund it could be considered.
Councillor Robin Cherbo said the local study might end up saving the city money by reducing the amount of material in the waste stream.
“There might be home-based composting solutions that don’t involve the city picking up [the organics] at all,” Cherbo said.
In Macdonald’s proposal, she outlined that the composting assessment should include consideration of various scales of composting (home, neighbourhood, community-wide or a combination), technologies and methods available and a cost analysis for each, what type of organics should be accepted, and how Nelson’s plan would fit with existing waste and recycling collection.
The committee to oversee the assessment will consist of three Nelson councillors, two members of the public, one representative from the RDCK, and one City of Nelson staff member.