Planning is underway to launch a cross-regional composting program. File photo

West Kootenay cross-regional composting gets the go ahead

Locally, household organic waste to be diverted out of McKelvey Creek landfill

Organic kitchen waste – meaning everything from egg shells to tea bags and meat bones to vegetable scraps – make up approximately 40 per cent of waste dumped into the McKelvey Creek landfill each year.

So news that the regional district now has money in hand to expand organics waste diversion beyond the Boundary and into Trail as well as all outlying areas right into the Central Kootenay, was greeted with cheers and applause at the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) board meeting on Thursday.

Confirmed to all 13 directors was that years of planning for community composting was given the provincial go ahead with a $1.5M grant to get a cross-regional program up and running in the West Kootenay.

The regional districts of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and the RDKB are now partners in this cross-regional composting initiative, the only one of its kind in the B.C. Interior.

This directive is expected to divert thousands of kilograms of kitchen and food waste from landfills in the RDCK and RDKB to a new regional composting facility at the RDCK Central Landfill near Salmo.

The joint program will initially target the processing of organic waste from regional curbside collection in the RDKB including Electoral Areas A and B as well as the municipalities of Rossland, Warfield, Trail, Montrose and Fruitvale. Municipal curbside collection will also launch in the RDCK cities of Castlegar and Nelson.

Moreover, collection will include organic waste from the commercial sectors in both regional districts.

“I think the main issue is that we will finally be able to divert almost 40 per cent of the total waste that’s going into the McKelvey Creek landfill,” Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni told the Trail Times.

Cacchioni is the RDKB director for Trail and has reported on stages of this initiative for several years.

“In itself, this will extend the life of the landfill and save the regional district and eventually the City of Trail millions of dollars,” he explained.

“I can’t emphasize this enough because in order to establish a new landfill we would be looking at over $300 million. Secondly, it will allow for a curbside collection of the waste that currently cannot be composted such as meat scraps and bones,” Cacchioni said.

“The organic waste collection will reduce the methane and other greenhouse gases and will also reduce the odour in the landfill area.”

The RDCK received $1.54M from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund – Organics Infrastructure Program grant with the RDCK to contribute the remaining $792,000 in project costs.

Planning, design and construction will take place over the next three years.

An initial composting pilot project, however, will be completed by fall 2021 with the central composting facility expected to be fully operating by spring 2022.

The RDCK also received a separate $962,000 Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund – Organics Infrastructure Program grant toward a new, $1.5 million composting facility in Creston.

In addition, the RDKB received a separate $2.4M grant to expand its existing composting program at the Grand Forks Regional Landfill.

“It has been a long time since this proposal was first put forward and I think we need to thank the previous board and even the one before that for not letting go of the goal of finally getting to organic diversion, it has been a great deal of work for both the RDKB Solid Waste Committee members and staff,” Cacchioni said.

“So many people in the East End especially have advocated for this program for many years. Further the entire board has been in support of this initiative for the entire seven years. We have to thank the RDCK board and the directors for moving forward with this project with the same zeal as the RDKB board,” he said.

“Many times the efforts of regional district directors go unnoticed but I can assure you that everyone of them work tirelessly in order to support projects and initiatives that benefit all of the citizens in the entire regional district.”

Once all these organics infrastructure projects are completed, curbside collection will capture almost half the food waste produced in the RDCK, and the majority of food waste produced in the RDKB.

“This partnership with the RDCK and our municipalities in both regions allows us to expand our own composting program so we can divert the maximum amount of organics from our landfills to central composting facilities. This is direct climate action,” said Diane Langman, RDKB board chair.

“It also opens the door to more discussions about other possible ways our two regional districts can cooperate on projects to address climate change and move our two local governments closer to becoming carbon neutral.”

The regional organics program is part of the RDCK Organic Waste Diversion Strategy (OWDS) and the RDKB Solid Waste Management Plan. The Central Landfill facility will supplement backyard composting by processing organic waste that can’t go in backyard composters, such as meat, breads, fats, and food-soiled paper.

The Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund – Organics Infrastructure Program combines $10 million in federal funding from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund, $10 million from the province and $10 million in matching funds from local government applicants and their partners.

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