Enough room at recycling depot for kitchen waste

Metro Vancouver agrees, there’s enough room at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot for piles of kitchen and yard waste.

Now all Maple Ridge wants the region to do is to allow higher tipping fees to pay for the cost of reworking the site to allow for that and the district will be a step closer to collecting kitchen waste for composting and removal from the garbage stream.

Maple Ridge has asked several times that Metro Vancouver modify its site off River Road in the Albion Industrial Park, where the garbage transfer station and recycling depot are located, and the regional government recently agreed the site could accommodate a green waste collection area, council heard Monday.

“It’s important if we’re to meet our goals,” Kim Day, executive-director of the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, said later.

As part of the region, Maple Ridge has to help Metro Vancouver divert 70 per cent of its garbage from the Cache Creek garbage dump by 2015, and collecting yard and kitchen scraps is one of the final steps that would allow that.

But Day guessed that collecting kitchen waste is between two and five years away.

And just how it would work in Maple Ridge remains to be seen. Private contractors who now collect trash in Maple Ridge could add that to their duties, or it could be done by the recycling society. However, collecting potato peelings and water melon husks and other kitchen slosh would require different trucks from the ones that haul away the blue box recyclables.

And whatever’s decided would have to be paid for at the local level.

“It’s a user-pay system. Nothing comes for free,” Day added.

But she pointed out the charge for dumping green waste is about half what it costs to dump garbage, so there is an economic incentive.

Mayor Ernie Daykin supports the concept, but says there are other items, such as construction waste, that could be recycled, as a means of reducing the garbage load.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he added.

“We’re still generating 800 kilograms [a year] for every man, woman and child in the province.”

Day said the private sector could also be part of the solution. A private company is still considering a compost facility somewhere in the area, provided it knew that Maple Ridge would use the facility.

Collecting kitchen waste is already being done in Port Moody and Coquitlam on a trial basis, Day said.

“They all say that it’s very successful.”

In Maple Ridge, it would depend on the area whether it would be more efficient to have garbage and green waste collected in one truck or separate vehicles.

Council OK’d another letter to Metro Vancouver, asking that it keep the present hours of the garbage transfer station, which includes Tuesday and Wednesday hours until 7 p.m. That would allow the recycling depot to maintain the same hours as the transfer station.

Metro Vancouver was thinking of cutting hours to save costs.

But consistency in opening hours is key, said Daykin.

“If people go down there and they can’t get rid of it [garbage], they get rid of it, but not necessarily there.”

An adjoining property could also be leased to expand the operation, council heard.

Coun. Craig Speirs knows of several neighbours who see nothing wrong with dumping grass clipping in vacant lots. That can also destabilize ravine banks, he pointed out.

Garbage was the topic of a few items on council’s Monday agenda. The district could start an anti-littering campaign, as other cities have done, to curb the amount of junk that’s tossed on to district streets.

Russ Carmichael, director of engineering operations, said the district does regular patrols along roads for litter and points out most people don’t litter in their own neighbourhoods.

District crews also have to deal with heavier items such as old furniture, TVs and mattresses.

He added that people dump about half a dozen mattresses a week on to public streets, instead of taking them to the transfer station, where they have to pay a $20 dropoff fee. In the first three months of this year, 675 mattresses were properly disposed of, he added.

Council Monday also had its first look at a replacement for its old garbage bylaw. Bylaws director Liz Holitzky is proposing that be replaced by a Solid Waste and Recyclable Materials bylaw that would make it mandatory to recycle all recyclables.

The bylaw also addresses multi-family housing and says any condo complex with more than 12 units has to use the recycling cart system, while those under that use the blue box rack system.

The recycling society recently expanded its blue box collection service to the area north of Dewdney Trunk Road as far as 272nd Street.

According to the recycling society, 36 per cent of the garbage produced in Maple Ridge homes is either yard or kitchen waste or wood waste. When that’s combined with a recycling rate of 55 per cent, Maple Ridge could exceed Metro Vancouver’s target of 70 diversion of garbage from the dump.