GreenLight Tote Sanitizing truck driver Eiron Wyman washes a tote for a customer along Santa Clara on Cordova Ridge. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Summer makes for nasty-smelling organic waste totes

Company cleaning up sanitizing organic waste containers

Wiggling maggots, sloshing sludge and a stench so foul it can make you wretch.

To open the rolling organic waste totes in the summer is a nasty, revolting experience.

Let’s face it, the heat of summer spawns unseemly life inside the kitchen waste.

Implemented in 2015, the kitchen scraps collection program differs slight per municipality but the general rule is all organic waste, be it food scraps cooked or raw, vegetable matter, animal bones and soiled paper products is no longer accepted at the Hartland Landfill.

At two weeks per pickup, the carcass from last weekend’s salmon barbecue is, well, let’s just leave it at putrid.

When the program started Jason Arsenault and John Wams, co-owners of GreenLight Tote Sanitizing and GreenLight Handyman, have hired a full time driver who cleans about 1,100 per month.

“You get an idea of how nasty these are from doing the job,” said Arsenault, who’s been in the waste industry for 23 years.

“Yes, they’re nasty alright,” Wams said.

With a specially designed tote-cleaning apparatus on their work truck (complete with a pressure washer), GreenLight has plenty of strata, townhouse and apartment contracts in Saanich and Greater Victoria. They often clean up to 12 bins per site, which makes sense for the cost, but they also do a surprising number of individual residences, cleaning both the garbage and kitchen waste totes.

“A lot of elderly people will bring us out,” Arsenault said. “But whether people use us or not, we also promote that people be responsible.”

GreenLight’s pressure truck captures the water it uses in the cleaning process and recycles it, including the environmentally friendly cleaning agent. Mostly, people need only to blast out the debris which sticks, or grows, inside the bins, Wams said.

However, Arsenault has recognized that residents are using bleach and other chemical cleaners to clean their bins. Then they’re pouring it straight into the storm drain, he added.

“All these chemicals drain into the storm sewer and there’s also food waste chunks, with chemicals on it, and animals are eating it,” Arsenault said.

Saanich encourages residents to keep their organics carts in good condition by storing carts in a cool, shaded, ventilated area with the lid closed, whenever possible, said spokesperson Kelsie McLeod.

“Carts should be cleaned periodically with a mild, environmentally-friendly soap or a vinegar-water solution. Residents are also asked to refrain from pouring cleaning solutions down outside drains. Instead, consider pouring soapy water onto grass or gravel.”

Here are some helpful tips to keep organics carts clean and prevent maggots:

· Empty your kitchen container frequently, and wash or rinse containers as needed.

· Don’t leave kitchen scraps exposed – keep container and cart lids tightly closed.

· Line the bottom of your container or carts with compostable or paper bags, newspaper or paper towels to absorb moisture.

· Freeze meat, fish, poultry or bones and put them in your organics recycling cart on your collection day.

· Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda, garden lime or vinegar in your containers.

· Store your carts in a secure, cool, ventilated location.

· Put your organics recycling cart out for collection every second week, even if it is not full.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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