It’s not a ban, it’s a disincentive and it has been delayed until next year.
That’s the word from Columbia Shuswap Regional District Environmental Health team leader Ben Van Nostrand, who asked directors to approve reducing tipping fees for mixed loads containing organic waste at the Oct. 19 board meeting in Salmon Arm.
A Sept. 13 story in the Observer outlined changes to CSRD’s organic waste diversion program that went into effect on July 1 and included a jump in fees for mixed loads containing organic waste from $80 a tonne to $160 a tonne.
Van Nostrand says the intent from the beginning was to work with businesses. To that end, CSRD has had many meetings with big producers of food waste, with a focus on education and the barriers for participation, be they space, bin sizes or costs.
“Our intent has never been to charge the increased tipping fee to start with and the resolution approved by the board formalizes our intent around focusing on education rather than penalizing someone who is not participating,” he says. “In my opinion, if we go through the winter and into the spring and find some restaurants and larger institutions are not participating, that’s when we need to talk to them about the ability to increase the tipping fees.”
But Van Nostrand says he is encouraged by what he are hearing from business owners and institutions and points out he has received several calls with requests for information on how they can be involved in the program.
Another “carrot” the regional district is offering is a business recognition program by acknowledging participating businesses on the CSRD website and by giving them stickers to place in their windows.
“We want to celebrate the folks that are making that positive change,” says Van Nostrand. “We’ve had calls from Sicamous and Sorrento with folks asking how they can get on-board.”
He says a 2015 strategy called for a ban on commercial food waste across the regional district, with the tipping fees approved in spring of 2017.
With Spa Hills Farm on Yankee Flats Road now providing a “Class A” composting program, organic food waste becomes a marketable commodity that should be recycled rather than sent to the landfill.
Van Nostrand says the regional district has been working with commercial haulers to help get the word out to their clients this summer that the new commercial composting program was being initiated.
“This has been very successful but we want to relax the tipping fee,” he told directors. “We’re not gonna hit you with increased fees; we want to help, put you in touch with appropriate haulers.”
The current target for rolling out the service is Salmon Arm, electoral Area C South Shuswap and D Falkland/
Salmon Valley/Deep Creek/Ranchero where haulers are already providing a service to businesses and institutions.
Salmon Arm Coun. Kevin Flynn asked if the intention was to eventually ban organic food waste from landfills or make it unaffordable do do so.
When he was assured it was a disincentive, Flynn said he would support the motion to reduce the tipping fees until July 1, but said he had received a call from a Salmon Arm restaurant owner who had concerns about where he would put an extra container to collect organic food waste.
“The Salmon Arm building regs say you have to put recycling and garbage in a cement container, so there’s no room for third bin,” Flynn said. “That’s an unintended consequence that has to be discussed with our people – that was first question I got.”
Van Nostrand replied that a number of current participants were finding that with the number of items that fit into the organic food waste category, garbage was reduced to next to nothing.
Area F North Shuswap director Larry Morgan wanted to know why his area was not included in the program, Van Nostrand told him, participants were chosen on the basis of their proximity to Spa Hills Farm as well as area haulers.
“We wanted to start where there is viable service,” he said. “We’re coming for you, we’re just not ready; we’re rolling it out in phases.”
Area B Rural Revelstoke director Loni Parker expressed concerns about the use of bins being an open invitation to bears in her area.
“We’re looking at providing a structure at the Revelstoke landfill; Whistler has an electric fence,” he said, noting he did not it’s a barrier CSRD can’t overcome. “Curbside is where we have to work with municipalities to provide the service.”