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A different decal for a different day

Food scraps need to be removed from general garbage and will be collected separately starting July 3.

Food scraps need to be removed from general garbage and will be collected separately starting July 3. The Solid Waste Resource Management Advisory Committee (SWRMAC) is going full steam to get the word out and will hold an information meeting on Saturday, May 19, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at council chambers.

At last Monday's council meeting, SWRMAC's chair Don Marshall gave a report on the committee's work. "We've been meeting weekly since April 5," he said. "We've created a long term plan that lays out three phases." The first phase of the plan covers the current program where food scraps will be sent to the North Shore. The second phase envisions an on-island waste management facility that could commence operation in 2014. "I've been working on this intensely [with Zero Waste] for the last few years," Marshall says. "And I'm excited to see it coming to fruition."

Educational activity is a big component of the first phase. "One of the things we've been focused on is using language that is positive and permissive," Marshall said. "We believe that people are happy about the opportunity and that the next step of taking food out of garbage is not going to be difficult."

Councillor Alison Morse asked Marshall if there were any committee members who were in favour of just throwing food waste in with the general garbage.

Marshall said no, and mayor Jack Adelaar stated that collecting food waste separately is a requirement by Metro Vancouver. Metro Vancouver has committed to diverting 70 per cent of the amount of material that goes into landfill by 2015. Separating out food scraps and yard trimmings and handling them differently from other waste has been identified as the most effective method to reach this target. Adelaar said, "This is the responsibility of all residents on Bowen. If the garbage is not separated, it's not going to get collected. Councillor Andrew Stone is SWRMAC's council liaison. He said, "The decision of Metro Vancouver to separate organics from the waste stream is causing us to rethink the solid waste program. We have to separate organics from the garbage and that brings a whole bunch of decisions. It has an impact on the community because it involves changing behaviour and policy decisions."

Marshall said that there is a learning curve and the committee is set to help. It has posted a list of questions such as: Can I use plastic bags to hold organics in the yard trimmings bin? What about animals getting into the bin? What's the cost of this year's decals? There is even a list of items that rightfully belong in the non-organics container. Please check out the information at

Food waste and yard trimmings will be collected on separate days of the week (and need separate decals), says Marshall, and the first step is to monitor the amount of food waste collected to see what kind of food recycling program would work well on island. He advises people to come up with an in-house collecting system like an "under counter bin" but adds that it has to be funded by residents. Stone said that the committee has spent many hours talking about different garbage containers and has advised local stores to carry suitable bins to get ready for the change.

Marshall also mentioned that SWRMAC supports on island processing of land debris as an alternative to trucking it off island. "And the committee has visited five potential sites that might be useful for on island organics processing," Marshall said, adding that the committee works closely with Dave McIntosh to produce an integrated solid waste management program.

"Our education program is not just about separating the food out from the garbage," Marshall said. "It's about the mindset and seeing food scraps as a resource and not as a waste."

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