Campbell Riverites could compost better

More than one-third of the garbage generated by Campbell River homes is going into the landfill

More than one-third of the garbage generated by Campbell River homes is going into the landfill when it doesn’t have to, say city staff.

Amanda Taylor, who co-ordinated the city’s compost challenge this summer, said about 35 per cent of residential waste could be composted.

“The average household in Campbell River generates 372 kilograms of garbage per year and on average, over one-third of residential waste consists of food waste that can be composted,” Taylor said. “Diverting organics from the landfill is especially important as organic material takes up unnecessary space at the landfill, and releases methane gas, the most potent of all greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change.”

To encourage Campbell Riverites to compost, the city conducted a reality TV style compost challenge in which six local families went head-to-head to see who could reduce the most garbage.

“The goal of these programs was to get more residents in Campbell River backyard composting in an effort to divert organics from the landfill,” Taylor said. “In lieu of an organics curbside collection service in Campbell River, the programs provided residents with a financial incentive and educational opportunity to increase participation in backyard composting.”

The city was in a position to run the challenge after securing $50,000 from the Comox Strathcona Waste Management. Part of those funds went to purchasing new iPads for the families who used the technology to film their efforts. Each of the families’ videos were edited together to create one short film which the city was invited to present at the Coast Waste Management Association’s annual conference at the end of October in Victoria, where 350 delegates saw Campbell River’s waste reduction efforts.

Alongside the Compost Challenge, a Composter Rebate program was launched this year to encourage backyard composting and in the process cut down on the amount of waste going into the landfill, which is rapidly nearing capacity.

Taylor said a good example of how composting can impact a family’s garbage output is the Revoy family, which won the Compost Challenge.

“As an example of composting impact on waste diversion, the Revoy family documented 29.6 pounds of garbage the week before the challenge and finished with a 5.85 pound average from weighing their garbage weekly throughout the challenge,” Taylor said.

Coun. Claire Moglove said composting is a valuable tool for a community who’s landfill is quickly running out of space and will need to be closed in the next couple of years.

“Having sat on the solid waste board for the last four years the cost involved in dealing with our landfills is absolutely enormous and the longer that we can have our landfill stay open and not have to spend the $7 million it’s going to cost to close our landfill the better,” Moglove said. “So this type of diversion of organics is really important and when I see that the Revoy family, the winners of the challenge, their documented reduction…that is amazing and the more people we can have do this the better.”

Taylor said city staff will continue to promote waste reduction initiatives and rebate programs when opportunities present themselves although no composter rebate programs, which were funded through the Comox Strathcona Solid Waste Management, are planned for 2013.