It’s Waste Reduction Week in the City of Trail.
For decades the three “R’s” of the waste hierarchy have been reduce, reuse and recycle. However this week is about reducing waste, and asking people across the country to make a pledge to lessen trash in their homes, schools, work and community.
Related story here: Diverting waste from the landfill
Trail council agreed to observe this important week as part of a Canada-wide movement “to raise awareness about waste and its environmental and social impacts.”
At the core, really, is what’s being done on the local front to decrease all the garbage historically destined for the landfill.
The reasonable place to ask about the more immediate strategy was with Tim Dueck, Solid Waste Coordinator for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB). The regional district provides the landfill service for Greater Trail, including diversion of metal scraps and wood waste, and it provides a drop-site for certain stewardship programs such as Recycle BC (blue box).
“We are not the only game in town,” Dueck began. “Stewardship programs do the bulk of recycling and diversion in British Columbia … the regional district recycles very little. The programs that we can influence and that we have an impact on are organic waste diversion programs,” he said.
“So we are, right now, developing a strategy to maximize the diversion of organic materials from our landfills.”
Grand Forks already has a program in place, whereby residents put organics, like food scraps, into a green bin for weekly pick up and subsequent composting by the regional district.
“In the Grand Forks area, at the curbside, we collect more tonnage of green bin material than we do garbage,” Dueck said. “So the general gist is that residents welcome and are more open to the idea than we think.”
The wheels are finally turning to expand the regional green bin program to Greater Trail, to include residential, institutional and commercial organic waste.
“We are developing a strategy to implement this diversion program throughout the district, that’s our mandate, that’s our goal,” Dueck said.
Just how that will be accomplished remains uncertain. But Dueck is currently working on a Request for Proposal to hire expertise in developing an organic management “strategy” that considers logistics and infrastructure.
The strategy could include expanding the Grand Forks program to include organic waste from the Trail area. Or it may involve finding a plot of land in the Greater Trail area and developing another composting site.
It’s too early to say what will work best, but at least the region is moving forward.
“These are all the questions we are going to answer within the next year and a half,” added Dueck.
He says the RDKB had an organics strategy in 2005 and for whatever reason, it fizzled out.
That will be updated to include ways to use the end product, which will be tonnes of compost.
“It’s all fine and dandy to have a compost pile but if you don’t have a use for the end product then you are not doing anything,” he pointed out. “It’s pretty easy to send a truck out and collect the stuff, but the next step is now what do we do with it, and how do we process it in a way that meets regulations and produces an end product that can be sold or used.”
Interestingly, compost from Grand Forks is being used to reclaim old dump sites from Beaver Valley to the Boundary.
“Historically in this region, we’ve had little landfills all over the place,” said Dueck. “That’s kind of the reason regional districts formed back in the 60s and 70s, because we needed to end this idea of little dumps.”
Up to 20 small dump sites from this area to Beaverdell are being reclaimed and properly closed, or “capped,” with high quality compost produced from the Boundary’s organic waste.
All that works toward the province’s target of lowering the municipal solid waste disposal rate from 550 kilograms per person to 350 kilograms per person by 2020.
“That’s the target throughout the province and we are headed towards that,” Dueck said. “And we are not the only game in town, but the things that we can control are organics, so that’s the direction we are pursuing.”