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Regional changes affect waste collection

Notices have gone out to Bowen households to inform islanders of the imminent changes to the island's waste collection.

Notices have gone out to Bowen households to inform islanders of the imminent changes to the island's waste collection. At the February 27 council meeting, Wil Hilsen, the municipality's manager of engineering and operations, provided an update on the solid waste management plan. Hilsen stressed the necessity for a Solid Waste and Resource Management Advisory Committee. "The committee was supposed to be formed in January of 2012," Hilsen said. "It will advise council on solid waste processing, review the solid waste management program for the 2012 transition year and develop a solid waste bylaw."

"There is a challenge here," Hilsen said. "Solid waste management is evolving as Metro Vancouver integrates its new solid waste and resource management plan to include the mandatory removal of food scraps and ultimately all organics from the land fill waste stream." Hilsen added that Metro Vancouver is also phasing out the burning of garden wastes and land clearing debris.

"Those region-wide changes will force Bowen to alter our waste collection practice and update our bylaws and associate regulations pertaining to the management of solid waste and land clearing debris," Hilsen said. "There is a strong awareness that these wastes are actually resources. And to process organics on the island is likely the best approach."

Bowen residents were informed through a flyer that the municipality is transitioning its solid waste program in 2012. Beginning Monday, June 4, residents will be required to separate food scraps from usual garbage for weekly collection. The food scraps that include all foods and table scraps as well as food soiled paper and boxes will be collected with the yard trimmings every week, year round.

Hilsen referenced a solid waste management report from November 2011 that had suggested alternating weeks for picking up garbage and food waste. "The decision to commence garbage collection every second week was held off until such times as the volume of garbage after the food waste is separated will be known," Hilsen said. "We will also look at how many trips to town will be required."

Hilsen stated that there are financial implications in the way we handle waste. He said, "Reducing waste generation and increasing the amount of waste that is diverted from disposal through recycling, composting and other resource processing presents the greatest opportunity to minimize the increase of future disposal costs." He added that Metro Vancouver projects that garbage tipping fees will rise from the current $97 per tonne to $185 per tonne by 2015.

The committee's recommendations could potentially save a lot of money. "The mandate of the committee is to provide advice to council regarding solid waste processing and management options and to develop an education program that will inform the community about good waste handling and reduction practices," Hilsen said. He also suggested that the committee liase with community groups.

Hilsen said that the committee will determine acceptable methods for the collection and handling of various types of waste, plan the frequency of collection and work towards the eventual collection and processing of organics on island. In order to get to that point, options for efficient and cost effective methods of processing organic waste, for instance chipping, composting, biochar and biomass to energy need to be investigated. And the committee needs to look at the zoning and other bylaw changes necessary to facilitate processing of organics.

Councillor Andrew Stone commended Zero Waste for the work the organization has done to educate the public and recommended moving forward with the solid waste management plan.

Mayor Jack Adelaar said, "In regard to [Metro Vancouver] phasing out burning [of green waste], there are two applications before council, from Twin Islands and J&W Backhoe, that relate to solid waste management. It seems that there is a way of lessening our cost from the municipal side as [on-island disposal] would mean less trips to the mainland."

Hilsen agreed. "We will be looking at what we can do locally. A big part of the committee's work will be looking at what resources we have available on island. We are also looking at ways to decrease the volume of garbage. Zero Waste has done a lot of work already."

Residents who are interested in serving on the Solid Waste and Resource Management Advisory Committee are asked to contact Wil Hilsen at until Monday, March 14.