Waste not, want not new motto for Grand Forks

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
May 31st, 2012

When it comes to talking trash Grand Forks city council has taken the topic to heart with the expansion of the organics recycling program for the entire city by October of this year.

Started in January of this year, the Val Mar area of the city with 128 homes has had the green bin pilot project for food waste collection operating for nearly six months, enough time for council to decide on their next steps.

“The benefit of the green bin kitchen waste collection is being realized in the pilot project,” said chief administration officer Lynne Burch in her report to council on Monday, May 28. “Residential garbage collection has been reduced by 50 percent which means that the tipping fees paid by the city for depositing garbage in the landfill are also reduced by 50 percent.”

Along with reducing garbage, which ultimately extends the life of the landfill, Burch added that the diversion of food waste reduces the methane gas produced by landfill decomposition. Staff also reported that there has been no negative complaints regarding the service, and in fact they have received some comments of appreciation.

“If we can get another twenty years out of our landfill, some of us know how expensive that remediation can be if we have to do it, if we can extend the life of that by modifying our behaviour at a negligible cost, it just makes sense,” commented councillor Gary Smith.

Under the new service, customers use a green bin to collect a variety of compostable products including food waste (meat and vegetable), facial tissue, hand towels, pizza boxes, newspapers, waxed or oily paper, and was recently expanded to add in disposable diapers, kitty litter, and other animal waste. The green bin is collected weekly, while garbage and other recycling items are collected on alternating weeks.

The current cost to residents for their garbage and recycling services is $108 per year. In 2012 the tipping fees at the landfill increased to $95 per tonne. If council did not proceed with the new service, staff estimated that residents would see an increase of about $7 annually or $115.

But the new service will reduce the volume of garbage for the city and lower the tipping fees overall. So the same $115 will cover the costs of the new services, except for the cost of the new bins required for every customer. In the end, the service cost will be $120, providing $5 per year to cover off the bin costs.

In total, customers will pay and additional $12 a year, or $1 per month.

While council agreed to proceed with expanding the kitchen waste program, councillor Michael Wirischagin asked if residents could opt out.

“Personally I believe in the system, I think it’s a great idea,” said Wirischagin. “However, I’ve had quite a few people approach me to say they may not be opposed to this on the surface but they don’t know if they can keep up with it for health reasons, disability and some just don’t care.”

Burch said that while staff are committed to assisting anyone who has questions to understand the program better and encourages everyone to participate, it would be possible to opt out but not from the cost.

Staff got direction to move forward with the service expansion and to create a new garbage collection bylaw to be brought to council for approval. The service is provided by Kettle Valley Waste, a Boundary area business.

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