Saanich’s organic waste will journey over the Malahat next year after the municipality awarded a Cobble Hill company a five year, $4.85 million contract.
Saanich councillors admitted discomfort with trucking food scraps and yard waste out of Greater Victoria, but as it stands, Fisher Road Recycling is the closest option available.
Michell Bros. Farm withdrew its bid for Saanich organic waste in October, and another bidder, Foundation Organics, had its operating licence yanked by the Capital Regional District in August. Both are located in Central Saanich.
“We’re spending millions on trucks and bins, and people expect this to be up and running,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard. “We’ve got to do something and nobody wants this buried in the landfill. It’s an unfortunate situation but we have to live with it.”
Saanich plans to start its kitchen scraps pickup program in April 2014.
“My concern is to send local waste over the Malahat to another community, to become another community’s problem,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.
“We’re certainly not talking about this waste as landfill, that is not something we’d want to foist on another community,” said Coun. Susan Brice. “This is an opportunity to produce a product for soil … and used on a number of farms on Vancouver Island.”
Fisher Road Recycling has been processing portions of organic waste from “green bin” programs in Victoria, Oak Bay and View Royal while Foundation Organics wrangles with the CRD. Saanich expects to ship about eight to 10 tonnes of organic waste per year to Fisher Road Recycling.
David Laing, owner of Fisher Road Recycling, said the five-year Saanich contract will allow it to expand composting capacity, although the company is amid an ongoing legal dispute with the Cowichan Valley Regional District over its licence to process material.
Laing said the yard is licensed by the Ministry of Environment to take about 18,000 tonnes per year and the contract from Saanich would allow him in improve technology and scale up to 22,000 tonnes. Under a restricted licence issued by the CVRD in June, it is allowed to process less than 10,000 tonnes.
“The (Saanich) contract gives me the ability to move forward as a company and build better infrastructure,” Laing said. “Instead of taxpayers paying for doing this at Hartland (landfill), I can fund that.”
Food and yard waste coming from Victoria, Oak Bay and View Royal is of varying quality, Laing said – plastic bags remain the bane of his business.
“Contamination can be high,” he said. “The biggest help for me would be to ban plastic bags. People use compost bags and put plastic bags underneath and that becomes an issue.”
The best organic waste, he said, has plenty of carbon content – grass clippings and newspaper.
“I don’t want composting bags, I want paper. It’s a good carbon source,” he said. “The most important is the yard waste because of the carbon content. No yard waste, no compost.”