CRD faces compost quandary

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Oct. 24, local composting business Pedal to Petal sent out an email to its clients in response to the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) recent processing problems with the kitchen scraps strategy. In the email, Pedal to Petal says the CRD’s strategy is failing due to a lack of facilities to handle the scraps collected. The business says that environmentally concerned citizens will be wasting their efforts separating garbage and having it picked up by the municipality, because it will end up in the Hartland Landfill anyway.

Pedal to Petal is a community-centred compost pick-up business that launched in 2008. The business picks up buckets of approved kitchen scraps, and takes the material by bike to be composted at a small, nearby facility. The resulting compost is then donated or sold to urban farmers, or sent to support Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farming projects for local gardeners around the city. The business’s goal is to enact an “ethical management of organic waste,” as the email states, and to support urban agriculture while using kitchen scraps to naturally enrich the soil.

In 2012, the CRD implemented its kitchen scraps collection program, which aims to lower the volume of compostable waste sent to the Hartland Landfill. This initiative is parallel to the CRD’s overall goal of diverting 70 per cent of waste otherwise sent to the Hartland Landfill by 2015 and to prevent the need for another landfill in the area. By 2015, the CRD plans to ban kitchen scraps from the Hartland Landfill.

Monique Booth of the CRD’s Parks and Environmental Services Department says, “The CRD is committed to diverting kitchen scraps from the landfill as part of our regional waste-reduction goals. With the recent licence suspension of Foundation Organics, we have presented a number of processing options to the Environmental Services Committee, and we hope to have direction on which option they would like us to proceed with by mid-November from our Board.”

Booth is referring to the recent appeal process that resulted in a suspension of the composting licence that belonged to Stanhope Dairy Farm’s Foundation Organics Ltd., a composting facility on Old East Road. Because of non-compliance to the CRD’s Composting Facilities Regulation Bylaw and to some of the terms of its Recycler Licence, Foundation Organics’ licence was conditionally suspended and all shipments of food waste to its facility were temporarily stopped. Foundation Organics was directed to remove all existing compost from its facility by Oct. 25, 2013. The facility has been advised to submit a revised Recycler Licence and hope to resume activities soon.

Currently, the City of Victoria has the Green Bin Program in place to collect residents’ kitchen scraps. The City of Victoria says that, temporarily, these scraps are taken up to Fisher Road Composting in the Cowichan Valley because of the suspension of Foundation Organics’ licence. Other municipalities, such as Saanich and Oak Bay, plan to join in with the Regional Kitchen Scraps Strategy, but they may encounter difficulties due to a lack of facilities to process these organic food wastes.

Pedal to Petal said in its email, “Only with Pedal to Petal can you be sure that your compost is being used for what it should be.” The message says that the current Green Bin Program of the City of Victoria is not guaranteed to be an effective way to responsibly reuse scraps. Pedal to Petal says it has lost 40 per cent of its clients because of the Green Bin Program. The business is “bracing for another significant loss in the coming 2015 ‘landfill ban,’” say operators.

Pedal to Petal encourages citizens who currently segregate their wastes, and those that responsibly compost in their own backyards, to continue to do so. However, as pointed out by Pedal to Petal, an Oct. 23 CRD report to the environmental services committee said, “there may be a potential shortfall in kitchen scraps processing capacity leading up to the 2015 kitchen scraps landfill ban,” and that the committee approved a Sept. 23 motion to “continue with the material being landfilled in the event capacity is reached.”

The Oct. 23 report suggests that the Regional Kitchen Scraps Strategy “be delayed until sufficient private sector kitchen scraps processing capacity is established” and that the CRD “continue to operate the existing Hartland kitchen scraps transfer station for local government haulers . . . and contract for processing capacity in the Cowichan Valley Regional District with the material being landfilled in the event capacity is reached.”

Booth says the CRD is currently working on options for waste processing and hopes to resolve this environmental issue soon.

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