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Saanich prepares to launch kitchen scrap recycling program

Dave McAra, Saanich’s manager of fleet operations and solid waste services, holds one of the containers that select homes will get for the municipality’s kitchen scraps recycling pilot project. - Sharon Tiffin/News staff
Dave McAra, Saanich’s manager of fleet operations and solid waste services, holds one of the containers that select homes will get for the municipality’s kitchen scraps recycling pilot project.
— image credit: Sharon Tiffin/News staff

Those chicken and fish bones, paper wrappers and mouldy cheeses that aren’t fit to compost may not have to wind up in your trash much longer.

Saanich is embarking on a three-month kitchen scraps recycling pilot project, where anything from compostibles to soiled paper towel won't be sent to the landfill.

"I've been pushing at the regional level for this to happen for some time, and basically our initiative is a sign that we've given up on the CRD providing the service," Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said.

As Hartland Landfill is estimated to be full by 2035, Leonard said steps need to be taken to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill. That will hopefully give it a longer lifespan.

Saanich's pilot project runs May through July in two select neighbourhoods: Borden and Nicolson streets, and Braefoot Road and Livingstone Avenue N.

The 583 participating homes will receive two carts (to separate garbage and kitchen scraps) in lieu of garbage cans, along with a kitchen container and collection bags.

Two different collection methods are being tested: modified backyard pickup (crews grab the carts from on your property and leave them at the curb once emptied), and curbside pickup (residents will be expected to move carts to the curb on collection day).

Dave McAra, Saanich's manager of public works, says the goal of the pilot is to collect feedback from residents on the different collection methods, and see what the operational demands are on public works crews.

"We want to collect as much information as possible, so depending on what the CRD decides (down the road), we'll have some good data," he said.

Two municipal trucks will come around to the pilot neighbourhoods on collection day – one will empty the garbage cart, one will empty the kitchen scraps cart.

The kitchen scraps will be sent up to Hartland, but then diverted -- most likely to a processing facility in Cobble Hill, McAra said.

"I'm hoping we get over 20 per cent (diversion)," he said. Over the span of the three months, he estimates two tonnes of kitchen scraps will be collected from the pilot area.

"I think there's still this sentiment that this is just backyard compost – but it's more than that," said Mike Ippen, manager of public works.

Fruit and veggie scraps, any leftover food, soiled paper products, coffee filters and grounds, solidified fat and grease, nuts and shells are all welcome in the kitchen scrap bin.

Plastic, styrofoam, aluminum foil, pet feces, diapers, and yard and garden waste are among the items that aren't acceptable.

Much of the cost of the pilot project – $49,000 – should be recoverable, McAra said. Because Saanich is using its existing crews and existing trucks during the project, the only costs are associated with purchasing the collection carts, which are re-sellable.

Leonard hopes the CRD will eventually get onboard with a region-wide collection model, but he's glad that his municipality is moving forward on something he says is long overdue.

"There's some important service options to work through," he said. "Usually taxpayers aren't interested in operational issues, but operational issues cost money, and (taxpayers) do care about their tax bill."

The 2012 budget sees Saanich taxpayers spending $149.60 per household for garbage collection.

The city of Victoria in February announced it will launch its own kitchen scraps collection program commencing in 2013. That municipality will use the modified backyard pickup collection method.

– with files from Roszan Holmen

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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