Not since the blue box recycling program was brought in have Saanichites been expected to change their waste disposal habits. But come spring, the garbage collection system in Saanich is being revamped to divert organic waste from the landfill.
This month some 64,000 collection carts will be distributed to nearly 31,000 homes across the municipality in preparation for the new collection system, expected to launch in early April.
“We’re not first out of the gate. We wanted to learn from other who’ve experienced it,” said Mayor Frank Leonard. “I think our community, for some time, has wanted to stop putting compostables in the landfill; they realize it’s wasteful to fill up a landfill with the material. We’re, in many ways, catching up with that expectation.”
Second to that, as of Jan. 1, 2015 the Capital Regional District won’t accept any more organic waste at Hartland landfill, so all municipalities in the region will be expected to have some sort of diversion process in place.
Naturally, the biggest change for Saanich residents will be separating kitchen waste – like uneaten food and fish bones – from the rest of their garbage. A smaller green bin will also be delivered to store waste in the kitchen.
“It’s a new habit to learn. I was at the Regional District when we launched the blue box; I’ve seen a program roll out where habits needed to change. It just requires a bit of patience,” Leonard said.
The next change is Saanich is scrapping backyard pickup of garbage bins. Garbage and organic bins will have to be wheeled out to the curb on collection day. (Assistance programs will be available for those residents physically unable to do that.)
Mike Ippen, manager of public works, asks that despite the carts being delivered in January and February, residents can’t use them until the curbside program launches in April.
“We have no way of picking (the new carts) up until we have the new trucks out there,” he said.
The new collection model will cost most households more per year. The “pay-as-you-throw” model lets homeowners choose what size carts they need, and that determines what they pay.
At the low end, an 80-litre organics cart ($25) and a 120-litre garbage cart ($25) plus the annual $105 base fee for solid waste services will cost homeowners $155 a year. Larger families may require larger bins, which range from $35 to $70 each.
In 2013, Saanich households paid a flat $156 fee for garbage and recycling.
Saanich estimates some 8,000 tonnes of organics will be diverted from Hartland landfill each year, and will be recycled into compost – to be trucked to a facility in Cobble Hill.
“Clearly our first choice would have been composting the organics close to home, but we’re of the view that second best is better than not at all,” Leonard said.
In November Saanich signed a five-year, $4.85-million contract with Fisher Road Recycling.
“I’m hopeful that within the five years, the contractor may choose to bring something closer to us. We’re providing a lot of volume, and the numbers might work to bring it to the region.”
For more information on organics recycling in Saanich, visit saanich.ca/services/garbage/greenergarbagecollection.html.