To drop off or to pick up?
The Solid Waste Resource Management Advisory Committee has been hard at work researching different options dealing with the complex issues surrounding garbage and waste management.
The advisory committee presented a progress report to council on Monday with the hopes that council would approve their 2013 work schedule, two public educational meetings and funding ($13, 000) for four environmental studies.
The Solid Waste Resource Management Advisory Committee’s goals are to reduce costs related to waste management and to educate the community in creating zero waste. A “zero waste” community is a place where recyclables are returned, compostables do not end up in our landfill or incinerators and reusable materials are not thrown away. To date this group has assisted in diverting organic materials, recommended a bi-weekly pickup for non-organics and researched other options relating to waste management and cost reductions.
Within the progress report presented to council, the advisory committee discussed options surrounding composting on island, developing a used building supply facility, as well as opportunities to reduce the number of trips to the mainland by compacting our waste and recyclables (such as plastics) into smaller loads. However the largest money saver according to the advisory committee is the drop -off versus pickup option.
The idea is to shift the responsibility of waste removal from the municipality to the individual resident. This would allow residents the option of dropping off their own waste to the current transfer station Bowen Island Recycling Depot or hire a private contractor for curb side pickup if they so desired. With an initial one time capital cost of $250, 000 this drop off scenario would, according to the advisory committee, save approximately $200,000 a year. This capital cost would be to upgrade the framework at Bowen Island Recycling Depot, a requirement in order to accommodate the drop-off option.
Concerns and questions from council included cost factors, the physicality involved with hauling garbage especially for our aging population and the potential to increase the carbon footprint due to special trips to the cove by many, versus one truck doing the job.
Currently, our garbage is picked up by Bowen Waste Services (our local contractor) and leaves the island after being compacted down within the truck and then dumped at the North Shore Transfer Station. Once at the transfer station, the garbage is reloaded into trucks and transported (according to the advisory committee report) all the way to Ashcroft landfill located near Cache Creek—a carbon footprint of approximately 300 kilometres.
According to Angus Gardner, Operations Manager of Wastech Services LTD, the Canadian based company that manages four transfer stations including the North Shore Transfer Station (www.wastech.ca) the breakdown is as follows: 57 per cent of the waste leaving the North Shore Transfer Station goes to the Burnaby incinerator, 38 per cent goes to the Burns Bog with only 5 per cent traveling to Cache Creek.
All trucks that return from Cache Creek are refilled with either wood chips or mushroom manure to maximize their payloads. Wastech recognizes the need to improve efficiency and has converted their Vancouver trucks to liquified natural gas which produces less harmful gas emissions to our environment.
From the information provided, Council could not make any decisions at this time. “We want to move things forward but the problem is there is allot of - its, buts and maybes, we need to tie these down then come back to the process”, states Mayor Jack Adelaar. Both parties were in agreement that public input was critical before moving forward with any decisions regarding a change in services. Council has asked the advisory committee to report back on Tuesday, Feb. 12 with recommendations. To view the The Solid Waste Resource Management Advisory Committee report click on http://bimbc.ca/files/embedded2010/130204COW2-1.pdf.