New direction considered for residential organics collection in city
A pilot food waste collection service initiated by the city drew positive reviews and could give Nelsonites an alternative to pending proposed curbside compost collection.
With the city set to sign on to the regional district’s Organics Waste Diversion Strategy in the future the city had cast about for alternatives to joining in on curbside organics collection.
And one of those alternatives — an individual electric food waste recycler that produces compost — was piloted by the city through 151 EcoSave program registrants and city staff over the last four months.
The FoodCycler, offered through Food Cycle Science, might serve as a viable alternative to curbside collection of organics, noted city staff member Ginger Lester in a presentation to city council on the findings of the program, based on the positive reviews the recycler unit has received.
“Our pest problem in Nelson was the overall reason for people (embracing) the FoodCycler,” she said, noting that smell of garbage leading up to collection day was another.
“The overwhelming message we got from the thought exchange on the pilot was A, how easy the unit was to use, and B, how much waste was being reduced.”
The program and the unit were both wholly supported by Mayor John Dooley, who felt the alternative to curbside organics collection was found.
He said in the past the idea was to allow Nelsonites to generate as much waste and recycling as needed and the city would pick it up and dispose of it.
“This product sort of forces us to take care of it in the home, with little or no pick up at the end of the day. I honestly believe … we are going to eventually see a waste system that puts more onus on the producer and the consumer to manage their waste at home, instead of us continuously spending millions of dollars on infrastructure and machinery … just so we can dump stuff,” he said.
The tiny FoodCycler machine could be the start of zero waste, Dooley added.
Foodcycler – pilot program: objectives
- Manage liquid, solid and hazardous waste in the following order: avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose.
- Foster waste reduction and elimination practices by providing innovative means for reduced consumption.
- Encourage local composting and reuse of organic material.
- Approach “zero waste” by maximizing resource reduction, reuse, recycling, and recovery for all waste types.
- Eliminate organics from the landfill as soon as feasible.
— Source: City of Nelson agenda
The FoodCycler was recommended by 83 per cent of the test group, with 53 per cent of people taking part in the pilot feeling that if the cost of curbside collection was the same or less than a FoodCycler program, the unit would be a viable long-term option for food waste diversion.
A further 16 per cent or respondents said yes, but there could be some improvement to the program, and 12 per cent said maybe, but it was still too early to tell.
The FoodCycler also motivated the reduction of the amount of food waste generation in households in 39 per cent of the cases, with 42 per cent seeing no change.
“The one difference with the FoodCycler is it can accept a lot of the things — like meat and cheese and dairy and chicken bones — that somebody who composts on a regular basis cannot put into their regular compost,” Lester said.
The organic matter that was produced by the FoodCyclers was put to good use, with 71 per cent of respondents mixing it into their own gardens.
Coun. Brittny Anderson wondered if the sampling of people chosen for the pilot program, however, were indicative of Nelson as a whole and, therefore, would replicate the program’s findings.
She pointed to the extrapolated figures of the amount of waste being diverted from the landfill and emission reductions — generated by city staff — as suspect.
“I just wonder if we are comparing apples to apples or if it’s more of an apple to orange comparison,” she said. “I don’t think the pilot program was large enough or diverse enough to say” it was accurate.
“Actually it is,” replied city manager Kevin Cormack, noting that the findings in Nelson aligned with those from across the country. “And I think we might end up being higher.”
Part of the solution
The city is on board with the regional district’s organic waste program, with conditions.
In April 2019 the regional district’s Organics Waste Diversion Strategy — which focused on curbside collection of organics — was presented to city council.
The regional district requested the city as a partner in the implementation of the strategy and on May 6 council did pass a resolution to join the program.
However, council agreed subject to a number of conditions, including the consideration of alternative options for organics diversion.
— Source: City of Nelson
Organics Waste Diversion Strategy
A. Advance zero waste education through collaboration with the regional district
- Work with the regional district to implement the strategies described in the new Regional District of the Central Kootenays (RDCK) Resource Recovery Plan, including composting seminars, school education through the Beyond Recycling program, and social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
B. Increase recycling and organics diversion with improved local services
- Increase recycling by including recycling for commercial buildings and additional drop-off sites for residents.
- Increase organics diversion and composting at both local and regional scales, including:
- significant backyard composting promotion, primarily through education, with bear awareness education;
- community gardens in public parks and schools;
- targeted commercial composting from major sources, such as grocery stores, restaurants, and hospitals, through education; and
- more frequent yard-waste pickups.
3. Add additional wood drop-off points and transfer stations in Nelson. Use excess wood waste from the community and the region for future district energy systems.
4. Explore program changes to curbside pickup program that would increase diversion, such as a user pays system that charges for waste pickup by weight or mandating clear plastic bags.
— Source: City of Nelson agenda