District diverts its green waste

Oak Bay expands kitchen scraps program to 6,100 homes

Kitchen scraps in the landfill will soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the District of Oak Bay’s mission to launch a full-scale collection program by 2014.

While Oak Bay has participated in a voluntary pilot kitchen scrap program for about 900 homes since 2006, the new program will expand to cover roughly 6,100 homes in the community and is anticipated to divert more than 1,200 tonnes of waste from the Hartland landfill, which will instead be converted to compost.

“Not only did we see a significant drop in the amount of waste dumped at the landfill from the pilot area, the pilot program taught us how best to expand the environmentally-friendly service to the entire community,” said mayor Nils Jensen.

The expansion came in response to the Capital Regional District’s decision to impose penalties for communities that continue to dump kitchen scraps after Dec. 31 this year.

While the CRD currently offers a $20-per-tonne credit incentive to communities that adhere to the separation program, Tom Watkins, manager of environmental resource management with the CRD, says starting in January there will be a 20 per cent surcharge on the disposal of refuse not separated. At the current dumping fee of $107 per tonne, those charges could start at $21.40 per tonne. Kitchen scrap dumping will be banned from the landfill entirely by Dec. 31, 2014. While penalties at that point have yet to be officially determined, Watkins suggests tickets could range in the $100 per infraction region, or even a loss of dumping privileges.

“Our main goal is education at this point, and we don’t anticipate having any trouble with any communities,” says Watkins. “Already, we have eight haulers receiving our incentive, and we’ve diverted more than 2,000 tonnes of waste. People tend to be compliant.”

In an effort to find the most “fiscally responsible” method of implementing the program, council called for tenders and, on June 10, awarded a five-year contract to Emterra Environmental Group for waste management service. No staff will be laid off or terminated as a result of the tender, but the accepted bid will cost $45 per household for waste service, less than the anticipated $60 per house with in-house service. While the latter fee would not have included the cost of purchasing a collection vehicle, the Emterra service, which starts in January 2014, will include curbside collection every two weeks and transportation of waste to a designated composing facility. Emterra will also provide wheeled totes, kitchen containers and, initially, compostable bags to all houses. Those houses currently on the pilot project will remain the same.

“We actually have no choice but to undertake this program,” said Coun. John Herbert, chair of Oak Bay’s public works committee. “It’s going to be done right across Greater Victoria. But it’s also a program that Oak Bay supports completely, just for the environmental benefits that it generates. It’s the right thing to do.”