Town ponders curbside organic pick-up

More and more communities on the island are benchmarking Ladysmith’s goals to reduce, reuse and recycle.

CVRD Superintendent of Solid Waste Operations, Jason Adair, was in attendance at last week’s Sustainable Planning and Development Committee meeting to do a presentation on the implementation of automated curbside organic waste, garbage, and recycling pickup in the Cowichan area.

The intention is to launch the program on June 1, 2013. Three trucks will be provided, each which is equipped with and arm to pick up totes from the curb. The totes themselves are to be provided by the CVRD. This method is also more efficient, cost effective, economical, and environmentally friendly.

Places such as Kamloops, Kelowna, the Okanagan, Greater Vancouver, and Port Alberni are already on the program and have experienced great success.  At the meeting, councillor Tom McGonigle asked, “With the implementation of organics, where would they be delivered?”  He was told that currently organic waste is picked up in Duncan and then hauled to Duke Point. The CVRD is still a few years away from making this program completely operational. Within Lake Cowichan, however, if council decided to go with the program, the town could decide to build its own facility and process its organics locally. The town would then have its own supply of nutrient rich soil.

Currently Lake Cowichan residents pay approximately $155 per year for the collection of their garbage and recycling. The implementation of this program would bring that annual bill up to approximately $200.  Like paying school taxes, residents would not be able to opt out of this increase if the program was to be brought in.

Councillor Jayne Ingram voiced concern over the ability of the trucks to separate garbage, recycling, and organics with the new automated system.  Adair explained that “there are two compartments with the split packer trucks, so yes, it would be separated.” Under the proposed program, collection of organics would happen once a week and collection of garbage and recycling would take place bi-weekly.

“This is an elevated service,” says Adair. “It is a popular program, a cleaner system, and we have great feedback from residents,” he adds.  Although the program would result in an increase in household costs to residents, these costs can, in the long term, be driven down if other municipalities decide to participate.

The totes provided by CVRD have wheels making them more user-friendly.    Organic waste makes up 40-50 per cent of our current garbage collection and the committee believes it should not be going into our landfill, but rather, be used for the valuable resource that it is.

Ladysmith was the first municipality in B.C. to offer residential organic pickup in 2006 and households are required to participate under the local bylaw.  Ladysmith has had positive results and have decreased their residual garbage by 34 per cent in the first year.

More and more communities on the island are benchmarking Ladysmith’s goals to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Composting has been proven to prevent pollutants in storm water runoff—it’s an erosion deterrent. As composting becomes more popular, it seems that it’s an idea that can’t simply be tossed away.