Saturday, November 13, 2010

Cowichan Valley Citizen Compost Coverage

Duncan coming for meat scraps, pizza boxes

Katie Harris of the Cowichan Recyclists demonstrates how Duncan residents will be able to take part in the upcoming wide-ranging compost pick-up program, expected to begin in February. Aaron Bichard photo

Kevin Rothbauer, The Citizen

Published: Friday, November 12, 2010

The City of Duncan will take a major step in the war against waste early in 2011 when it rolls out a curbside composting program alongside the already-successful recycling program.

Beginning in February, residents will be able to deposit a surprisingly wide variety of organic materials in 48-litre green containers each week to be composted on Vancouver Island, rather than ending up in a landfill in Washington state.

"It's something we've been looking at doing for some time," said Duncan mayor Phil Kent. "The waste we do export from the Valley has a significant cost. This will reduce the cost of waste management and it will be an opportunity to have the waste used for positive purposes."

Similar programs have been successful in other Island communities, including Ladysmith and Nanaimo. The diversion of organic waste has seen household garbage decrease by an average of 35 to 40 per cent.

"We have a program that is time-tested in other communities," said Kent. "It should work."

The list of acceptable items is long and not entirely obvious, including fruits and vegetables, all food scraps, cakes, cookies and candy (without wrappers), pizza boxes, food-soiled wax paper, milk cartons, and wooden stir sticks.

"The thing to focus on is that it goes further than backyard composting," said Aaron Bichard of the Cowichan Recyclists, who are working with the City to educate and prepare the public for the program. "It's meat, grease and cooked foods as well."

The outdoor containers, Bichard advised, will have latches on them to prevent animals from getting in.

Waste will be picked up in a compartmentalized truck. Compost and unlimited recycling will be collected one week, followed by compost and a 77-litre garbage can on other weeks. From there, material will go to the Bings Creek Transfer Station, then on to International Compost Corporation at Duke Point.

The highlight of the program is the ease with which residents can participate.

"It's going to be very simple," said Bichard.

Initially, the program will be restricted to about 1,250 single-family residences. Commercial operations and multi-family buildings will be left out for the time being, but Kent said the program may be re-evaulated to include them as well. The mayor noted that there are businesses that cater to commercial composting.

Residents of Duncan can expect to receive their compost kits -- comprised of a kitchen-scrap catcher, a 48-litre curbside tote and a sample of 100 per cent compostable bags -- early in the new year. In the meantime, information on the program will be available throughout at the Duncan Farmers Market, Christmas Chaos and City Hall, and residents are encouraged to contact the City with feedback.

© Cowichan Valley Citizen 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial - News

Curbside composting coming to Duncan

Katie Harris demonstrates the compost kit that will be delivered to 1,200 Duncan homes in February. Andrew Leong

Duncan homeowners can recycle organic kitchen wastes — spanning food scraps and bones to dairy wastes and greasy pizza boxes — under a curbside-compost collection program starting in February.

The goal is reducing by 40-odd per cent the tonnage of trash city taxpayers shell out to ship — with the rest of Cowichan’s garbage — to a Washington State landfill.

Duncan’s curbside program will see about 1,200 homes given a free curbside compost kit comprising a kitchen scrap catcher, a 48-litre curbside tote, and a sample of 100 per cent compostable bags.

Kits will be delivered by early 2011.

Contactor Cowichan Recyclists will stage educational displays and sessions about how the composting program works.

The city’s curbside setup costs are about $44,000, including advertising and educational exhibits, but council hopes most , or all of that will be saved in shipping bills, city staff said.

The menu of Duncan’s kitchen wastes will be shipped to International Compost Corporation’s facility at Duke Point.

Those household organics, plus those now collected in Ladysmith and Nanaimo, will be processed into a compost fertilizer.

Mayor Phil Kent said curbside composting makes a host of financial and environmental sense.

“It’s a program the city has been looking at for some time.

“One issue was trying to find a low- or no-emission vehicle to do it but we were ahead of the curve so we’ll use high-efficiency vehicles running on biodiesel.”

Council hoped to join a curbside program being mulled by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, but financial issues have delayed the CVRD’s program by about a year.

“We also had to make decisions about our vehicles,” Kent added.

“We decided to bring this program on line in-house and recycling is the best approach for taxpayers.”

The organics waste drive is not initially offered to apartments, town homes and businesses, Kent said, but those places could be added later.

He wants folks to realize short-term pain in set-up costs will spell long-term gains in reduced trash costs — and Duncan’s carbon footprint.

“We want to reduce our greenhouse gases and our dependence on purchasing resources,” he said, “and we may be able to realize revenue opportunities for bio-gas and district energy.

“We’ve looked at other communities who’ve done this and learned from their lessons and mistakes so we don’t repeat those things.”

For more, call 250-746-5321.