Kitchen scraps open door to labour market

CRD decision to ban dumping ‘green’ waste is forcing municipalities into new collection system

Business has been good for Jason Adams, who started Refuse, a green waste collection service in 2002.

And all indications are that it’s going to stay that way.

He started with two employees and has slowly built up to a staff of 12, with contracts big and small.

If there’s a worry, it’s that the Capital Regional District’s decision to ban green waste from Hartland landfill, which is forcing people to contract collection services, will create new competition for Refuse.

Green waste is being phased out of Hartland with an all-out ban by Jan. 1, 2015. By closing the door on kitchen scraps at the Hartland landfill, the CRD has opened the door to new business.

There are plenty of minor wrinkles to iron out among the various collection services in the CRD but many have yet to start.

“We are seeing an increase in clientele, one we anticipated,” Adams says.

With municipal kitchen scrap collection programs popping up across the region – most recently in Victoria – some of the more unique qualities of Refuse are becoming the norm.

“We went from offering a unique program, to being kind of a normal kind of thing,” Adams says.

Many also believe Greater Victoria was long overdue to create green waste solutions. The enterprising side of Adams saw that opportunity 12 years ago.

“We have mixed feelings. From a business standpoint, more opportunities could bring competition, but there’s probably enough for everybody.”

Refuse isn’t the only collector in town, with Organic Waste Recovery Solutions, Pedal to Petal, and Community Composting among the smaller outlets offering pickup.

Of course the big boys, BFI, Waste Management and Alpine, offer their services too. And Refuse is subcontracted by all three.

“Garbage companies aren’t being that proactive, but they need to protect their market share. There still isn’t a business like ours that treats (compostable waste) like a resource,” Adams says.

What’s unique about Refuse is a semi-regular dividend of ready-to-use soil.

“It all gets composted with yard waste at our Cobble Hill location. We sell it as ‘Resoil,’ by the bag or wheeled tote, or bulk dump deliveries. We give it back to clients and also donate it to schools.”

Oaklands and Royal Oak middle schools, for example, have raised thousands from sales of Resoil.

Phase one of the Hartland green waste ban is a $20 per tonne discount for haulers with separated waste. By 2014, those who drop off non-separated waste will be penalized with a 20 per cent surcharge.