Organics Pilot Program Successes; City Receives $1.78 Million Dollar Grant For Expanded Program

December 7, 2021 - Three months into the Curbside Organic Waste Collection Pilot Program, City staff are pleased with the program’s progress.

Tracking data shows that a majority of residents on the pilot routes are participating in the program. Across the five pilot routes, 64% of households are setting out their organics carts each week, which is contributing to a significant reduction in garbage headed to the landfill.

An average of 2,300 kg of organic waste was collected daily from September 20 to December 3, totalling 120,500 kg of organic waste diverted from the landfill to date.

“We’ve had staff out monitoring, tracking, and documenting all three streams of waste—organics, garbage, and recycling. The participation rates and the amount of organics collected so far is very encouraging, and as a result, that waste is being diverted from the garbage stream,” said Marcia Dick, the City’s Solid Waste Reduction Coordinator.

“Through comparison of garbage weights over last year on our pilot routes, garbage weights are down 41% on average,” added Dick, who presented a summary of the program to-date at the December 6 Civic Operations Committee meeting.

The Curbside Organic Waste Collection Pilot Program is in Phase 2 of a multi-year program that aims to reduce the amount of garbage sent to landfill and greenhouse gas emissions. Phase 1 included a feasibility study and waste audit that examined benefits of such a program, and Phase 3 expands on the pilot program to include 27,000 residential homes following completion of the pilot.

The City has just received a $1.78 million grant from the Province’s Clean BC Organic Infrastructure and Collection Program to support the expanded community-wide residential organics collection starting in late 2023.

Pilot Survey Highlights
The City is gathering feedback from residents on pilot routes to learn what works well and what could be improved before community-wide implementation. Results from the first survey of pilot residents in fall 2021 indicate a strong level of support. Of the 535 survey respondents, 79% said they support organic waste collection.

The survey showed that top concerns include cart cleanliness/keeping the organics cart clean and the possibility of attracting fruit flies and rodents. Tracking the attitudes of home composters is also a key part of the pilot. Of the 39% of survey respondents that already compost at home, 73% said they support organic waste collection.

When it come to the shift to biweekly garbage and recycling collection, survey data showed that around half of respondents are not concerned.

"This is a key piece of data, as we anticipated the change in collection would be a challenge. The information is showing us that while biweekly collection is a concern for many households, households can adapt,” explained Dick.

“We do allow pilot residents to put excess material out for collection. So far, we haven’t seen a lot of extra garbage or recycling at the curb; about a dozen residents on a 500-household route put out excess material at the curb.”

Find the full survey report here or click in the Documents section of this web page.

Next Steps
Staff will continue monitoring how the pilot program is working and will continue engaging with pilot residents for their feedback. Staff will prepare another report in spring 2022 that will include an update on all aspects of the curbside residential organic waste collection program, including waste diversion data, public engagement information, pilot participation data, potential costs for community-wide implementation, and the results of all funding opportunities pursued to date.

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