Nelson City Hall staff person Sandy Kobe with a FoodCycler used in a city staff room. Photo: City of Nelson

Nelson City Hall staff person Sandy Kobe with a FoodCycler used in a city staff room. Photo: City of Nelson

Nelson will use unique technology to reduce composting costs

Program will provide a processing machine to countertops in every household

Nelson council has come up with a unique way of participating in the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s curbside collection composting program that will start in 2022.

Households in Nelson will first treat their organic material with a FoodCycler, a kitchen counter-top unit that dehydrates food material.

Organic material from around the RDCK will be trucked to a new facility being constructed on an old landfill site near Salmo.

According to the city, taking the water out of the organic material before it is picked up at curbside will mean “not trucking water around,” because the volume and weight of the waste will be significantly reduced. This will result in fewer curbside collections per year, lower transportation costs, and fewer greenhouse gases.

“The ideal situation in any kind of waste program is reduction, and if we can have less organic waste, we are doing the right thing,” Mayor John Dooley said at the Dec. 7 meeting at which council voted to go the FoodCycler route.

The city piloted the FoodCycler with 151 households last year, and again with another 31 this year. The results were so positive that the city is basing this new composting strategy on it.

A graphic presentation to council about the FoodCycler and the pilot projects can be found here.

The start-up cost including purchase of 4,000 FoodCyclers and bins is expected to be about $1.1 million, with two-thirds to be paid for by a grant from CleanBC and the remainder by the city or by a grant from the federal government’s Green Municipal Fund.

This grant will pay for most of the cost of each household FoodCycler.

The City of Nelson’s cost estimates comparing the use of the FoodCycler with regular curbside pick-up. Source: City of Nelson

The City of Nelson’s cost estimates comparing the use of the FoodCycler with regular curbside pick-up. Source: City of Nelson

Factoring in the purchase cost and electricity demands of FoodCyclers, along with the cost of collection, tipping fees, and the purchase of curbside bins, the cost to the city would be $115 per household per year, compared to $158 for picking up wet food waste curbside.

City manager Kevin Cormack said the volume of organics would be decreased to the point where only eight collections per year would be needed. Because food waste would no longer be bulking up the regular garbage, the frequency of garbage pick-up could be reduced also because there would be less of it and it would not smell while being stored.

With fewer runs, the city could also avoid buying a separate vehicle to pick up the material.

The difference between $1,118,800 and the city’s share would be covered by a grant from CleanBC. Source: City of Nelson

The difference between $1,118,800 and the city’s share would be covered by a grant from CleanBC. Source: City of Nelson

A video of the Dec. 3 council discussion of the FoodCycler pilot projects can be found at 2:03:00 here.

A video of the Dec. 7 decision to go ahead with this program can be found at 1:31:00 here.

The city estimates that use of the FoodCycler by households would avoid the emission of 2,392 tonnes of greenhouse gases, compared with 703 tonnes if the waste was picked up in raw form.

This program will collect residential organic waste only. Council also decided to carry out a pilot project for the commercial sector using FoodCyclers.

Related:

Nelson city council agrees to RDCK composting plan

Nelson households pilot counter-top organics recycling method



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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