Compost could eventually be added to the growing number of curbside recycling options in Vernon.
Vernon council unanimously voted to extend its compost bin pilot project until December 2021. Meanwhile, a feasibility study will be done to investigate different options for diverting organics, including the possibility of adding a curbside compost pickup, as early as spring 2022.
The composting pilot began in the summer of 2019, offering compost bins for community use as a way to divert waste from the landfill and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in the process. Spa Hills Compost was contracted to collect and convert the compost into chemical-free fertilizer to be used on farmland.
The pilot proved popular — so much so that it was cut short last year due to greater participation than expected.
This past January council approved the use of $27,000 from the city’s Climate Action Revolving Fund to support phase two of the program. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns, the program didn’t launch until the end of June, according to a Nov. 9 report to council by Laurie Cordell, manager of long-range planning and sustainability.
There are currently four compost bins in the city, located at the intersection of 33rd Avenue and 29th Street, the Vernon Recreation Centre, the Vernon Works yard and Kin Race Track. Cordell’s report said the four bins appear to be meeting demand, though there have been requests for a bin closer to the south end of town around Okanagan Landing East.
The number of bins could be reduced to two during the winter months, using locations that are not affected by snow clearing.
An organic diversion feasibility study will investigate different options for the program, including household compost pickup.
“It is likely that administration will seek council’s direction on household organics pick up in the spring of 2021,” Cordell’s report reads, adding that if council were to pursue this option, household pick up would likely begin in the spring of 2022 to give the city and waste hauler time to prepare.
The program currently costs $2,000 per month to run, but the cost could be lower with fewer bins to manage during the winter.
“Should demand increase in the spring, however, there may be a need to increase levels of service,” the report reads.
It’s not the only waste diversion strategy that’s been considered recently. North Okanagan residents have been receiving grey boxes this month as the RDNO prepares to start glass curbside pickup Dec. 1.
On Nov. 9 Vernon council also supported an application to the RDNO’s reTHINK Waste Grant for education materials and programming around waste reduction and the extension of the compost bin program. The education initiative will also help determine whether the community supports the idea of household organics collection.