The Carter home in Oak Bay was one of 1,048 households that were part of a 2006 pilot project in the municipality.
The family was utilizing a backyard compost at the time, but it was not without its problems. Such food items as eggshells attracted raccoons, bones and kitchen grease were not compostable and yard clippings took up a lot of space.
As Oak Bay prepares to go full-scale with its kitchen scraps collection, Ron Carter recalled how easy it was to adjust to bagging up waste material from a kitchen catcher and dropping it into the rolling green tote for pickup.
“It just becomes automatic,” he said, comparing the ease of the system to the blue box recycling program. “We keep it (the kitchen catcher) on the counter while preparing food and whatever ends we chop off go instantly in. It’s actually convenient to have this little thing sitting around when creating meals. It’s been great. Nothing organic goes into the garbage.”
Kitchen scraps collection, with bi-weekly, curbside pickup for all homes in Oak Bay, begins in January. Leftover food, bones, paper napkins and cooking grease are among the many organic items that will be accepted.
Homeowners will receive a brochure this month introducing the program and the bins and bags are scheduled to be delivered in December.
The response from the pilot project was positive, with many outside of the select neighbourhoods patiently waiting for it to be expanded, Mayor Nils Jensen said.
“It’s an excellent project, one that has been anticipated by many of the residents,” he said. “This program is going to be in place right throughout the CRD (Capital Regional District) which means substantially less material going into Hartland (landfill).”
The kitchen scraps program is part of a CRD mandate to ban all organic waste from regular garbage by 2015. The CRD aims to divert 30 per cent of all waste currently going into the landfill by then. Homeowners be charged an extra $45.99 on their property tax to pay for the program.
Public works superintendent Phil Barnett said the CRD currently charges Oak Bay $107 for every tonne of garbage that goes to the landfill, with a $20 rebate for being part of the CRD. That rebate changes to a 20-per-cent surcharge if kitchen scraps are found in the garbage. Random checks will be done at the landfill and if the pilot is any indication, compliance won’t be an issue.
“We’re not going to start this by opening people’s garbage,” Barnett said. “If it becomes an issue at the landfill then we’ll have to.”
More information about the kitchen scraps collection program can be found at oakbay.com or by calling public works at 250-598-4501.