Q. What are the benefits of a curbside organics composting program?
A. Removing organics from the waste stream will help to reduce the amount of material that is taken to our landfills each year. Organics in the landfills produce greenhouse gas emissions and leachate (contaminated groundwater) which requires expensive collection and treatment. A composting facility for organics contributes to the environmental sustainability of the region and create compost — a beneficial, renewable resource.
Q. How much can we reduce garbage with a curbside organics composting program?
A. Household organic material, which includes such things as food scraps and used tissues or paper towels, makes up approximately 30 to 35 per cent of all household garbage. Removing this material from the landfill will also extend the lifespan of the new engineered landfill.
Q. Where does the organic material go to be processed?
A. A small scale Gore Cover System facility is located at the Comox Valley waste management centre. The organics composting program uses a different system separate from the existing biosolids composting program.
Q. How does the Gore Cover composting system work?
A. The Gore Cover system is what is known as a covered aerated static pile composting system. The covers use similar technology to that used in Gore-tex outerwear; waterproof on the outside to prevent precipitation from entering the pile, and breathable to allow CO2 produced during composting to escape. The whole system is monitored and controlled by a computerized system to ensure control of odors and compliance with regulations.
Q. Will residents who live in apartment buildings and condominiums be able to participate?
A. It will be up to participating municipalities to include multi-family dwellings in the program in the future. Each residence would require an individual kitchen collection container that would be emptied into common curbside containers like the ones used by single family dwellings.
Q. Where will residents get the curbside collection containers and the household containers?
A. Residents are instructed to use appropriate lidded containers of their choice, properly identified at curbside with a sticker that will be included in the mailed information package.
Q. Would adding this material increase emissions from collection vehicles and increase traffic on roads?
A. Most organics collections programs use collection vehicles with two separate compartments. This means that each truck can collect two waste streams at once. The most common collection schedule then has one week when organics and garbage is collected and the next week when organics and recycling is collected. If this system is used, there will be no increase to the amount of traffic or emissions produced from this program. .
Q. How would the organics process work?
1. Residents would put kitchen scraps and other acceptable organic material such as yard waste into their curbside organics container and put at the curb for collection similar to their existing yard waste, garbage and recycling collection programs.
2. Curbside organics containers would be collected on a weekly basis by collection vehicles and transferred to the composting facility for processing.
3. The organic material would be screened to remove contaminants and then the material would be mixed with chipped wood waste to be put into covered windrows for four to six weeks in what is called primary composting.
4. The compost would then be transferred to a paved outdoor curing area for 60 to 90 days. This curing process biologically stabilizes and matures the compost.
5. Once the compost is analyzed to ensure it meets environmental regulations and standards, it would be available for participating municipalities to use in their parks and community gardens.
Q. Will the kitchen container smell?
A. Odours can easily be avoided in the kitchen container by keeping it in the fridge or freezer, or emptying and rinsing the container frequently ~ once every two to three days. The containers can also be lined with newspaper or paper bags. Placing a few sheets of newspaper at the bottom of the curbside collection container will absorb excess moisture that can trap and cultivate odor-causing bacteria. Once you begin separating organics, you will also find that your garbage does not produce many odors and can be emptied less frequently. The pilot composting facility will not accept plastic bags of any type as they compromise finished compost quality and may get caught up in processing machinery.
Q. What about pests/rodents?
A. It is important to remember that organic material is already placed at the curb as part of your household garbage. Collection of organics only requires separating the organics from the garbage container and placing them in a specific organics container. Therefore, the same precautions required for keeping pests out of your garbage, such as placing your container at the curb the morning of your collection day and covering it with a proper fitting lid, apply with an organics collection program.