In two years, gardeners in Nelson may be able to purchase compost made from their own food waste, produced by the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) at the old landfill site near Salmo.
The facility will collect organic matter from places as far away as Trail and Rossland. Creston will have its own facility.
But it’s not yet clear how the organic material will be picked up in Nelson, how often, by whom, or how much it will cost.
RDCK resource recovery manager Amy Wilson said local governments may want to use the compost in landscaping and the RDCK might use some in its further reclamation of the HB mine tailings site that adjoins the former landfill.
The compost will be created using a system known as aerated windrows.
The windrows will sit on a large concrete pad with pipes underneath that push air up through the material, which will consist of half organic food waste and half waste wood chips.
Aerated windrows generate enough internal heat to work in any weather.
“We went through a composting assessment and looked at a wide range of low tech to high tech, and what would fit for our climate and our feedstock and volume, and have elected to go with this system,” said Wilson.
Construction will start in 2021, with some local communities beginning to contribute compostable waste in pilot projects in the fall of that year.
There will be curbside collection in all urban centres in the RDCK and in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, amounting to about 55,000 households, Wilson said.
Industries, businesses, and institutions will take responsibility for delivering their organics to transfer stations at Ootischenia and Grohman.
Wilson says that similar to garbage collection, Nelson would be responsible for collection within the city and transport to the Grohman transfer station.
But Nelson’s finance manager Colin McClure told the Star that Nelson has not committed to picking up compost at curbside. He told the Star the city has been hoping that would be done by an RDCK contractor.
He said he is unsure how curbside organics collection would be incorporated into the city’s current bi-weekly collection of garbage and recycling.
He said he has seen an RDCK consultant report that speculates organics collection would cost each Nelson household $100 annually.
Wilson says the RDCK expects each municipality to design a collection system that works for them, “such as weekly/bi-weekly, automatic/manual, type/size of bins. Many three-material curbside programs collect compost every week and recycling/garbage alternating weeks (or some combination of materials/frequency) using a split bay truck.”
The RDCK’s job will be to collect the material from the Grohman transfer station after the city has delivered it there, and then transport it to Salmo, compost it, and manage the compost, Wilson says.
In 2019 Nelson city council narrowly voted in favour of joining this regional system as opposed to creating a smaller system just for the city.
Wilson says the RDCK is encouraging community-based systems in some cases where their small transfer stations are not set up for collecting organics.
“New Denver, Silverton and Kaslo are thinking of starting community compost systems, so we would not be hauling it,” she said.
Could Nelson residents opt out of curbside organics collection, and the annual fee attached to it, if they are already doing their own individual household composting?
Wilson says that will be up to the city.
The provincial picture
According to the Recycling Council of B.C., about 40 regions and municipalities in the province have residential curbside organics collection programs. In addition, there are almost as many drop off sites for food scraps, and almost 200 sites where residents can drop off green waste.
Spoiled and uneaten food represents about 25 per cent of all residential garbage in B.C., more than any other type of waste.
In 2017, residents of the RDCK sent about 555 kilograms of solid waste per person to landfill sites. The B.C. average among its 27 regional districts is 506 kg.
A few municipalities and regions have banned organic materials in their landfill sites. Residents and businesses in Metro Vancouver, the Capital Regional District (Victoria and region) and City of Nanaimo are no longer allowed to put food scraps or yard waste in their garbage. These three jurisdictions account for 64.3 per cent of the province’s population.