After three successful weeks collecting separated kitchen scraps in two pilot neighbourhoods, Saanich is looking at expanding the service to the rest of the municipality.
“Whether or not we’re going to have a program – that’s water under the bridge. We’re definitely going to have a kitchen waste collection program, and we’re going to run it with our own crews,” Mayor Frank Leonard said.
Saanich launched its pilot program May 2, providing two neighbourhoods with green bins for kitchen scraps that includes food waste such as fruit and vegetable peels, meat, bones and tea bags, and compostable paper products. The bins do not get dumped into the Hartland Landfill with garbage-can waste.
Participation on the three collection days so far has been 95 per cent, resulting in 9.64 tonnes of organic waste being diverted from the landfill.
“I don’t think anybody could’ve predicted participation in the 90th percentile. We don’t get that kind of participation on garbage day,” Leonard said. “Clearly the people that have the service have really committed to it.”
Saanich director of engineering Colin Doyle said the diversion rate has risen each week.
“Our diversion rates are a hair shy of 40 per cent, which is fabulous,” he said. “A lot of other areas that have established kitchen scrap programs are down closer to the 30 per cent mark, so we’re very pleased.”
Two different collection methods are being tested: modified backyard pickup (crews grab the carts from a property and leave them at the curb once emptied), and curbside pickup (residents are expected to move carts to the curb on collection day).
Once the pilot ends on July 11, a survey will be delivered to the 583 participating homes asking for feedback. Saanich staff will vet the comments, determine how to proceed, then forward a request to the finance committee.
Leonard said it’s too early to provide a timeline for kitchen scrap collection for the rest of the municipality. He also couldn’t say whether pickup will continue for currently participating areas after the pilot’s end.
“If (staff) can show us this hasn’t been a costly exercise in terms of labour, then yeah, the totes are already out there, let’s carry on and get it around to the rest of the community. But we’ll have to wait and see what the numbers are at the end,” he said.
As for expanding the program, Leonard said Saanich will have to decide whether it will offer the curbside or hybrid collection model, and they’ll have to find contractors to compost the kitchen scraps.
Hartland Landfill is estimated to be full by 2035 and the Capital Regional District has banned the drop-off of kitchen scraps at the landfill come Jan. 1, 2015.