Each week, garbage trucks rumble through Greater Victoria neighbourhoods, spiriting away all the rubbish that can’t be – or wasn’t – recycled. For many people, household trash is a problem that is out of sight, and often out of mind.
But this Sunday, Hartland Landfill is opening its doors and offering tours, an event that happens every two years. People can see the final resting place for all those apple cores, chicken bones, plastic bags and food wrappers casually tossed in the trash.
“For residents … this is a chance for them to see where all their garbage disappears to,” said Monique Booth, the communications co-ordinator with the Capital Regional District. “They can see the active face where we are landfilling.”
The event doesn’t just feature shockingly large fields of household trash, but offers education on the upcoming kitchen scraps program, which will phase out organic waste from the landfill by 2015.
People can also learn that the landfill generates enough electricity via methane to power 1,600 homes and that 26 per cent of trash at the site is paper or wood products. About 13 per cent is plastics.
“We are hoping to let people know how a landfill works, to raise awareness on how waste is managed in the Capital Region,” Booth said. “This is the only landfill we have.”
The landfill took in about 136,000 tonnes of municipal garbage last year, and 144,000 in 2010, which is dumped and buried in a section called Phase 2.
Between the 1950s and 1997, Phase 1, the original dumpsite, was filled to the brim with 4.5 million cubic metres of trash (for comparison, B.C. Place Stadium has a volume of about 2.6 million cubic metres). Phase 1 was sealed in plastic, capped with soil and is now 40 per cent covered with 10,000 trees and shrubs.
Phase 2 has space for 10.3 million cubic metres of trash (nearly four B.C. Place Stadiums) and is expected to last until 2035. There is no Phase 3.
“We are hoping to divert kitchen scraps. This will be a huge reduction,” Booth said. Household organics are estimated at 30 per cent of all current household waste, the largest single contributor to the landfill.
Despite all the garbage, Booth said the site doesn’t stink like an old shoe. “There really is no smell at all. People are quite surprised. It doesn’t feel like you are at a landfill,” she said.
People are welcome to attend the Hartland Landfill open house on Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at 1 Hartland Ave. It will not be open to accept garbage.
Hartland is offering bus rides from the Camosun Interurban campus to ease parking congestion. Parking at the college for the event will be free on Sunday.
Book a space before the end of Friday at 250-474-9613.
See www.crd.bc.ca/waste/hartland for more information.