City of Nelson employee Sonya Martineau changes out the bucket on the FoodCycler at city hall. Photo: City of Nelson

City of Nelson employee Sonya Martineau changes out the bucket on the FoodCycler at city hall. Photo: City of Nelson

Nelson households pilot counter-top organics recycling method

151 people used the FoodCycler for three months, and the results are in

From April to June, 151 Nelson area residents used a counter-top machine to process their household organic waste.

The FoodCycler does not actually compost organic material, but turns it into a soil amendment by grinding and dehydrating it. The resulting material can then be added to garden soil or to compost.

The pilot project was part of the city’s lead-up to the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s plan for curbside organic waste collection expected to come into effect in Nelson in 2022. Under that plan, organic waste will be collected at curbside and taken to the former landfill site near Salmo for processing.

Last year when council decided to join the program, it resolved to “explore the opportunity for residents to opt out of curbside collection of organics waste on the condition that they participate in an approved alternative organics diversion strategy.”

The FoodCycler is one such potential alternative, hence the pilot project.

To recruit participants for the pilot, the city reached out to people who had enrolled in its EcoSave program and subscribers in the solar garden. City councillors and staff also participated.

The results presented by city staff member Ginger Lester at council’s July 20 meeting included:

• Overall, participants gave the FoodCycler a rating of 4.4 out of 5, and 83 per cent said they would recommend it to others. Of the remaining 17 per cent, only one person said they would not recommend it.

• Most participants joined because they wanted to reduce wildlife and pests attracted by backyard composters and by garbage.

• The 151 participants processed a total of 30,000 litres of food waste, or 15 tonnes.

• Thirty nine per cent said they reduced their garbage tag use, for a total of 187 bags saved.

• Seventy one per cent mixed the soil amendment into their garden or into their compost.

• Problems identified were noise, odour, and capacity (33 per cent), no problems (52 per cent) and other (14 per cent).

• Average daily result was 1.1 buckets (2.5 litres) per household.

Presenting the results, Lester explained throughout the pilot project the participants formed a Facebook group, took part in a ThoughtExchange process (structured online discussion) and a survey.

“They were a very engaged group,” Lester said. “I was really impressed with the feedback we got all along. Positive or negative, we heard it all.”

She said the two predominant themes were positive: the simplicity of the unit and the amount of waste that was being reduced.

The city got a discounted price from the manufacturer that allowed sale of the units to the pilot group for $250 plus taxes. From there, the city gave a $125 rebate to all who did all the requirements such as tracking and answering surveys.

So far the city has paid out 147 rebates, which amounts to $18,375.

In the future, potentially the units could be offered for discounted sale to residents for $250 to $280 plus taxes. But no decision was made at the meeting as to whether the city will proceed with this.

The issue of comparative greenhouse gas emissions for organic waste processing is complex because it must take into account transport of organic materials as well as the transport and manufacture of technology.

Alex Hayman, representing the manufacturer of the FoodCycler, presented the following information to council on greenhouse gases. These numbers do not include the footprint of transporting the material to the processing site.

• C02 to produce and ship FoodCycler unit and four filters to Nelson: 122 kg (worst case scenario, depending on transportation routes, is 275 kg)

• Co2 diverted from landfill annually with one FoodCycler unit: 280 kg

• Net saving (280 minus 122): 158 kg (worst case is break even)

• Central composting produces approximately 150 kg of CO2 per tonne of food waste, not including transport

• FoodCycler produces about 71 kg of CO2 per tonne of food waste, from the manufacture and shipping of the machine.

Nelson’s Low-Carbon Path to 2040, written in 2011, envisions Nelson as a zero waste city, and reducing organic waste is one of the goals of the plan.

Reduction of organic waste in landfills is also a goal of the provincial government, which estimates that 40 per cent of material currently dumped in landfills could be composted.

As organic material decomposes in landfills it generates greenhouse gases, which increase global warming and contribute to climate change.

Placing organic material in household garbage is prohibited in three regions in B.C.: the Capital Regional District (Victoria), Greater Vancouver, and the City of Nanaimo.

This article was altered on July 28 to add the paragraphs about the cost of the units for residents during the pilot.


Nelson city council agrees to RDCK composting plan

Regional composting program to go ahead in the West Kootenay

• Nelson council skeptical about regional compost plan

Curbside compost pickup coming to Nelson by 2022

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Members of the Nelson Nordic Ski Club show off their new snowcat. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Nordic Club celebrates new snowcat

A community fundraising effort led to the purchase

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
Kootenay-Columbia MP supports motion condemning Uighur genocide

Rob Morrison says labelling Uighur persecution as a genocide sends a message to Chinese government

The Skinny Genes Foundation is raising awareness and funds for a rare genetic disorder that claimed both his father and uncle.
NHL players, local businesses help Kootenay man raise funds and awareness for rare genetic disease

Signed NHL jerseys and local business donations up for auction in Skinny Genes Foundation fundraiser

An architectural design proposal from June, 2020, illustrates what a re-developed Hall Street Pier might look like. Illustration: City of Nelson
Nelson receives $1M grant for Hall St. Pier project

The design and extent of the project will be decided in the next few weeks

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read