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Kitchen-scraps pilot deemed a success

May 10 2012

Saanich residents seem keen on recycling kitchen scraps.

The municipality started collecting kitchen scraps from about 583 homes last week as part of a pilot project. With a full collection cycle under its belt, the program is reporting a 95 per cent participation rate.

"They had some contamination, but it's been well received by the people on the pilot, and the people who aren't on the pilot are anxious to know when they are going to get it," said Mayor Frank Leonard.

"So I think we're on the right track. If anything, we need to move from a pilot to the fast track based on the feedback I'm getting."

Dave McAra, Saanich's manager of fleet operations and solid waste services, said initial diversion rates were higher than the average for such programs.

Before the program, the municipality collected about eight tonnes of garbage on the pilot routes. During the trial, roughly three tonnes of kitchen scraps and five tonnes of garbage were collected - a diversion rate of about 38 per cent.

"Most kitchen scrap recycling programs, 30 per cent is a good number to hit," McAra said.

"So it was a pretty successful first pass and we're hopeful we can remain at those diversion levels over the next five collections [of the trial]."

McAra said there were six minor contamination issues in the pilot's first week. Fruit and vegetable scraps, soiled paper products, coffee filters and grounds, solidified fat and grease, nuts and shells are all welcome as kitchen waste. Contaminants include items such as plastic, styrofoam, aluminum foil, pet feces and diapers.

For the purpose of the trial, the municipality issued homeowners with compostable bags and three containers - a smaller bucket for under the sink, and two larger wheeled totes for bringing garbage and kitchen scraps to the curb.

Two separate collection methods are being tried: a modified backyard system where crews collect totes from backyards and then leave them at the curb, and curbside pickup where residents have to take the totes to the curb on collection day.

The project is taking place in the Nicholson Street-Borden Street and Livingstone Avenue North-Braefoot Road areas.

It's slated to run until July with a goal of collecting feedback from residents on the collection methods, and evaluating impacts on public works crews.

Leonard said even if Saanich wasn't moving to collect kitchen scraps, there would be changes to collections to address issues such as aging trucks and an increasing number of workerinjury claims due to lifting.

"Newer vehicles will do the lifting," he said. "We just need to know what are they going to lift: garbage or garbage and kitchen waste."

The Capital Regional District has decided to ban kitchen scraps from the Hartland landfill as of Jan. 1, 2015.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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