Bins have been set up at the transfer station for food waste.

Metro green waste ban gradual

New recycling regulations started on Jan. 1.

As of Jan. 1, kitchen waste such as potato peels, egg shells and turkey carcasses can no longer go in the garbage.

Instead, they have to be dumped in with the other green waste, such as leaves and lawn clippings, and picked up separately and composted.

Although the new regulations began Jan. 1, Metro Vancouver won’t enforce them for a while. Residents won’t be fined and there won’t be any inspectors prying through garbage bags.

“The sky’s not falling, that’s hopeful,” Coun. Craig Speirs said at Maple Ridge’s Monday council meeting. “It’s a soft opening for this.”

Council heard that Metro Vancouver is taking a gradual approach to the latest change in garbage management, in which organic materials like kitchen scraps and yard trimmings have been banned from regular garbage.

For the first six months, until July 1, the emphasis will be on education. Any loads taken to transfer stations that contain more than a quarter of organics, such as yard or kitchen waste, will be identified and the garbage hauler will be told of the transgression.

But after July 1, haulers who bring in garbage loads with more than 25 per cent organics will face a 50-per-cent surcharge. Usually, such loads come from restaurants and grocery stores, while residential garbage has a lower percentage of green waste.

Starting next January, the allowable limit of organics in garbage loads is lowered to 10 per cent, then five per cent.

“Obviously, the residential component will have pretty close to a year to be put in place,” Speirs added.

Public works manager Frank Quinn told council that two of three major garbage haulers in Maple Ridge, which doesn’t have a municipal garbage collection system, already have organic waste collection underway and the third will roll out a plan in a few months.

One of those companies will offer organic waste pickup starting Feb. 1.

AJM Disposal just bought a new truck that will allow it to put garbage on one side of the truck and organic waste on the other. That way, only one truck is needed, reducing traffic on local roads, said Matt Torgerson.

“We are now accepting organic waste and yard trimmings because they are one and the same when it comes to composting.”

Customers will put their organic waste into one garbage can and their garbage in the other. The company will give customers decals to identify the cans. There’s a 23-kilogram weight limit on the cans.

“I think it’s a big value-added option,” Torgerson said.

The company decided to have its customers, about 2,000 residents in Maple Ridge, buy their own green waste containers because the amount from each household varies considerably.

Monthly rates have jumped from $14 a month for weekly pickup for garbage only – to $20 a month for weekly pickup of garbage and organic waste.

But customers can put out as many organic waste containers as they want. “So the organic services from us is unlimited. I think it’s a big value-added option,” he added.

Torgerson said the reason it’s delayed until February is because the company had to buy a new truck which would allow one-stop collection of both green waste/organics and garbage.

“It just arrived yesterday.”

It also needed somewhere nearby to deliver the organic waste. It now has a place, after making a deal with Harvest Power compost transfer station in Pitt Meadows to accept the green waste. The garbage collected still goes to the Metro Vancouver transfer station in Surrey.

“We are not hauling material out of the region like some other waste haulers are. We are keeping it within the system to support the system.”

Torgerson said the private waste collection system in Maple Ridge is a good deal for residents because they only pay for what they put out to be hauled away.

“If you reduce your waste at curbside, you save money with us.”

But there’s no such incentive with a municipal system, in which everybody pays the same.

Progressive Waste Solutions started picking up organic waste in Maple Ridge about mid last year. For an extra charge, residents will be given a wheeled cart to collect their yard and kitchen waste before hauling it to the end of their driveways.

“It’s worked out very well. We’re getting multiple requests for the additional service,” said Grant Hankins, district manager.

“We’re anticipating having the majority of our customers on the program within six months.”

Separate trucks will take the garbage to Metro Vancouver waste transfer stations in Coquitlam, Abbotsford or Surrey. The organics will be transferred to Harvest Power in Richmond.

Maple Ridge residents, though, should compare costs and services from different waste haulers, said Esther Berube, senior project engineer in Metro Vancouver.

One way of saving money would be to have only garbage pickup every second week and organic waste pickup weekly, she suggested. Many cities follow that schedule to save costs.

She pointed out Metro Vancouver has given extra time to allow strata councils and apartment buildings to make the adjustment. The percentage of organics waste allowed in garbage in 2015 will be 25 per cent, then drop to 10 per cent next year.

But “They should start getting organized now,” by talking to haulers and setting up collection bins.

She said the program is a good business opportunity for haulers. On the other hand, they also have invest more to offer the service.

“So many of them are on board with providing the extra service. But it does come at an extra cost.”

One advantage of organic waste ban is that leftover meat, fish or any other food based product can be dumped into the green waste bin whereas meat products can’t go in backyard composters.

But people are still encouraged to compost on their properties to reduce the volume picked up at curbside.

Berube said most cities in Metro Vancouver have been offering the service for the last two years.

“We’re way behind everybody. All the other cities have had kitchen curbside pickup for some time,” said Coun. Bob Masse.

Kim Day with the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, said the collection of green waste isn’t part of the recycling program. She advised people not to put their organics in plastic bags because they’ll be rejected at curbside. Even decomposable plastic bags shouldn’t be used because they’re hard to identify.

She said Waste Management, the largest hauler in Maple Ridge, will be announcing its plans for organics pickup in the next few weeks.

Day said nothing has changed with recycling,  and that cardboard pizza boxes are better off being recycled than composted, even if they have some grease on them.

Residents can still bring in their own garbage to the Maple Ridge transfer station and drop off their own organic waste in a new spot set aside at the station.

 

• Metro Vancouver says that allowing green waste in garbage adds to global warming because incomplete decomposition will create methane. It says that food and other green waste also will take up more room in the garbage dumps and contaminate the fuel that could go into the waste-to-energy incinerator.

 

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