Weekly curbside pick-up of organic scraps is slated to roll out across the Sunshine Coast, with Gibsons and the SCRD – and eventually Sechelt – moving garbage collection to every other week.
The Gibsons program starts in April, while Sechelt and the SCRD’s collection services will not begin until 2019, when existing garbage service contracts expire.
The Town of Gibsons will allow residents to opt out of the new residential organics curbside pickup, but they won’t make it easy.
To refuse the service, residents will fill out an annual application form describing how they divert organics from the landfill, and enclose photos of their composter as “proof of diversion.” Organic waste includes fruit and vegetables, bread, meat and bones, dairy products, and food soiled paper and cardboard (such as paper napkins and pizza boxes).
“Only those who deal with 100 per cent of their recycling would have an opt-out,” David Douglas, director of finance, said at the Feb. 20 Gibsons council meeting. “We would expect people to fill this [application] out and staff would evaluate it and then either award opt-out or not.”
“Honestly we don’t think that a lot of people do 100 per cent of their own organics. This system would fail if we were opting out hundreds and hundreds of people,” said Douglas. Town staff has based their financial estimates on a maximum of 80 residences (four per cent) opting out of the program.
Costs for the combined garbage and organics service in Gibsons will be $205 per residence per year for the first two years. The current charge for weekly garbage collection is $156. That $205 includes start-up costs (purchase of organics bins), so it is estimated that the annual fee will drop to $180 in Year 3. Residents opting out will pay $135 for garbage collection only.
When Councillor Jeremy Valeriote raised the question of how the program will be enforced, Douglas responded that the contractor, Grayco Ventures, would monitor garbage collected from addresses that have opted out of the service.
The organics pick-up programs are being launched in anticipation of a full-scale ban on organic waste at the regional landfill. At the Feb. 22 meeting of the SCRD corporate and administrative services committee, local politicians heard that the landfill will reach capacity in only eight years (by 2025).
The SCRD’s decision to start organics pick-up in the rural areas was not unanimous. Areas B (Halfmoon Bay), D (Roberts Creek) and F (West Howe Sound) voted in favour, but Area E Director Lorne Lewis voted against the proposal. Area A (Pender Harbour) does not have any residential garbage collection service, so did not vote.
The District of Sechelt voted to approve the expansion of organics curb side collection (from a pilot program in Davis Bay) at its regular council meeting on Feb. 7. It will start in 2019 with curbside organics collection, and then gradually reduce garbage collection to once every two weeks.
Local governments are hoping to extend the life of the regional landfill by diverting organic waste, which makes up 45 per cent of landfill disposal. This year, the SCRD will implement a commercial food waste ban and in 2020, they will implement a ban on all residential food waste.