The final phase of the Green Bin Program will be rolled out next month as the balance households in Nanaimo will receive the containers that will help divert thousands of tons of kitchen waste from the regional landfill.
While some residents of Nanaimo have been taking part in the kitchen waste program for almost a year, the final 17,500 households (garbage routes A through D) in Nanaimo will receive the green containers and the instructions and schedules that go with them in September.
“That will bring us to full implementation, the final phase,” said Carey McIver, the regional district’s manager for solid waste. “When we’re done we’re looking at about 52,000 single family households in the region that will be part of this effort.”
Phase 1, which started last October on garbage routes E and F, consisted of providing 26,000 households outside city limits with green bins while another 8,500 households in the city received them.
Gary Franssen, manager of sanitation and recycling for Nanaimo, said once the green bins arrive residents are encouraged to become familiar with the program and note the change in collection patterns.
“It’s really important for people to check inside the bins when they get them because there will be all kinds of educational things on them as well as the new collection schedules,” said Franssen. “Once we get everybody set up with their bins on the remaining routes we’ll be ready for collection at the beginning of October.”
Green bins containing kitchen waste will be picked up weekly while garbage and recycling will be picked up on alternate weeks. The bins, which cost $21.50 each, are paid for through the RDN’s Solid Waste Reserve Fund.
The city employs one specialized split packer truck for kitchen waste collection. Three more are expected to arrive soon and will be put to work when the balance of the program begins in a few weeks.
The green bins will allow residents to discard kitchen scraps including meat bones, milk cartons, pizza boxes, uneaten food, nuts and shells and even houseplants for compost at a Duke Point composting facility.
“It goes beyond what you can compost in your backyard,” said McIver.
The program is expected to start a new era in reducing waste at the regional landfill with an estimated 6,000 tonnes of food waste annually being diverted from the landfill to compost.
Currently, about 33 per cent of household waste is diverted from the landfill through recycling. The Green Bin Program is expected to boost that to more than 60 per cent based on a 75 per cent participation rate.
Statistics say that the average Nanaimo resident sends about 414 kilograms of waste to the landfill annually compared to Lower Mainland residents who average more than 600 kilograms per capita. Nanaimo residents have also been averaging two kilograms less garbage monthly on average over last year.
McIver said the goal is to have a landfill diversion rate of better than 70 per cent by next year to meet provincial standards.
“Our landfill has capacity to about 2030 but we don’t want to be in a position where we run out of options,” said McIver. “We hope as the years go by more and more people will participate in this program. With the blue box there were a lot of people initially who said ‘I’m not going to do this’ but now it’s become the norm. Everyone’s doing this.”
For Nanaimo residents, the city’s fall 2011 Waste Line newsletter will be mailed out providing helpful information on the Green Bin Program as well as a schedule of open houses. Mail outs will begin on Aug. 23. More information can also be found at www.nanaimo.ca or www.rdn.bc.ca.