Why is the City doing this? How does this benefit the City and residents?
A residential curbside organic waste collection program is estimated to reduce the community’s carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 2,800 tonnes per year (equivalent to removing about 600 passenger vehicles) and save the City $1 million annually in costs related to landfill capacity.
Our garbage audits show that up to 38% of residential garbage is organic waste. A curbside organic collection program will help to divert this waste from the garbage stream and can result in having less household garbage overall.
Outcomes of organic waste collection in Kamloops also align with waste reduction goals outlined in the City’s Official Community Plan–KAMPLAN–and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan, which aim to reduce waste to the landfill to 560 kg/person annually by 2023 (in 2019, the disposal rate was 750 kg/person annually).
Environmental Leadership is also a strategic priority of Council (see Council Strategic Plan 2019-2022).
Funding opportunities for Canadian municipalities to implement curbside organic waste collection programs have also expanded in recent years, and City staff have identified grant opportunities through the Green Municipal Fund and CleanBC to support the funding for this project.
Why is the City implementing a curbside organics program when there are recyclable items we still can’t get picked up through the City’s recycling program? Why can’t we ‘fix’ the recycling program first?
The materials accepted under the City’s recycling collection program are determined through our contract with Recycle BC. Therefore, the City must follow the guidelines set by Recycle BC. The need to separate plastic bags and glass from other recyclables is a priority set by the recycling industry in order to be able to sell the collected recycling materials across the available markets – these materials cannot be effectively recycled when mixed with others.
While some communities do collect glass curbside, many others, including the City of Kamloops, do not. This is because glass breaks during the collection process and is not easily separated from other recyclables, and can become embedded in other recyclable materials, making the overall recyclable load extremely difficult to sell to the recycling market.
Please visit Kamloops.ca/ResidentialRecycling to learn more about recycling and to download our Recycling Guide.
I have seen this done in other communities long ago. Why has it taken so long to implement a curbside organics program here?
The biggest hurdle in moving forward with an organics collection program up until recently has been the aspect of processing. We’ve always known we could collect the material but the big question to be answered was what would we do with it? With two well-established processing facilities now in operation within 100 km of city limits, the City is now in a position to be able to move forward with this long-awaited initiative.
What will go in the organics bin?
The organics bin is primarily for kitchen food scraps, food-soiled paper, household plants/flowers and some yard waste.
Kitchen food scraps include cooked food (leftovers); unused or spoiled grains, dairy, produce, and meat/fish; bones, egg/seafood shells; and small amounts of fat, grease, and oils (preferably soaked in paper towel or newsprint).
Food-soiled paper products can include paper napkins and paper towel; food-soiled newsprint, paper bags, paper plates or pizza boxes (clean pizza boxes should still go in recycling while greasy/cheese-caked boxes can go in the organics container); coffee grinds, filters and tea bags; wooden chopsticks, popsicle sticks, and skewers.
Until we complete the research and select a processing (composting) facility, we will not know the full list of accepted items. For example, some facilities accept wax-lined paper such as to-go containers, wax paper or waxed cardboard, and compostable cutlery and containers.
Seed, bedding, and cage liners from small household pets such as birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters.
Yard waste may include fallen fruit, small amounts of grass clippings or leaves, and small branches. We are also learning is that layering food with yard waste in collection carts is a very effective way to absorb liquid and minimize odours. The fully-defined list of yard waste accepted will not be known until the composting facility is chosen.
Note on yard waste: The City will also continue to operate the yard waste program independent of the proposed curbside organic waste collection program. Residents will still be able to take their yard waste to any of the City’s yard waste drop off depots for free.
Additional items may also be accepted in the organics bin based on the full list of items accepted by the processing facility. More information will be shared as it becomes available.
How does the program work? What do I do?
With the program, residents will each receive two containers—a small kitchen bin (approximately 1 cu. ft., or 7 litres in volume, in size) and a curbside container. The kitchen bin would typically be stored on a counter next to a sink, or underneath the sink. It may be lined with newsprint or a paper bag for ease of emptying and cleanliness, and has a lid that snaps shut to help eliminate any odour and fruit flies.
Check out this video on how to make your own kitchen bin liners out of newspaper, sent to us by a resident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-edeA1Smho0.
When the kitchen bin is full, the food waste is transferred to the curbside container, which can be stored alongside your garbage and recycling containers. The size of the curbside container and the frequency of collection are yet to be determined. We will learn more as we conduct research, hear from residents and conduct a pilot program.
Why do I need to compost my food? Doesn’t food just decompose in the garbage anyway?
Modern landfills are not designed to break down waste, but only to store waste. When organic waste breaks down in a landfill it generates a greenhouse gas called methane. Methane is 26 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere. One of the purposes of an organic waste collection program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Composting food changes the way that food breaks down so that methane production is minimized. We are also looking at long-term options for organic waste processing (e.g. one of the options is to capture and convert the gas into renewable natural gas).
I already compost. Will I have to participate?
Thank you for being an active composter! Your actions already support one of the main goals of the organic waste collection program which is to keep as much organic waste out of the landfill as possible.
However, there are materials that are accepted in organic waste collection that should not be composted in backyard open systems (such as meat, bones, oils, fats, and cooked foods - these attract vermin and other wild animals), so you can continue backyard composting while using the organic waste collection program for anything that doesn't belong, or is difficult to compost, in your backyard.
We will consider possible exemptions for residents already engaged in composting their organic waste, and what impacts possible exemptions may have on the implementation of a community-wide collection program.
We are researching how “opt-out” options are incorporated into organics collection programs run by other communities and will look to see how an “opt-out” option could potentially be incorporated into the program being developed for Kamloops.
What if I don’t want to participate? Do I still have to get a curbside container?
We are undertaking public engagement during Phase 1 (February–June 2021) and we are encouraging residents to provide input into the design of the program, so we encourage everyone to learn about the benefits of an organic waste collection program and why it makes sense for the City to introduce a residential organic waste collection program to Kamloops.
One of the goals of the organics collection program is to keep as much organic waste out of the landfill as possible; doing so will extend the life of the landfill, save the City money in landfill space, and reduce the community's greenhouse gas emissions.
The program will operate similar to garbage and recycling collection–residents would receive both a kitchen bin and a curbside container that belong to that address.
Is the collection going to be city wide?
In Phase 2 of the program, we will operate a pilot program in select neighbourhoods. After that, in Phase 3 (July 2023), the City will implement curbside organic waste collection for all single-family and multi-family households that are on curbside collection routes (i.e. multi-family households that have their own set of garbage and recycling containers would receive an organics container).
I see it’s just for residential curbside collection right now. Will organic waste collection be available to multi-family complexes and businesses too?
We are committed to diverting organic waste from the landfill and will be phasing in additional organic waste diversion programs over the next eight to ten years. Organic waste collection at multi-family complexes will eventually be planned once we establish household collection.
Regarding commercial collection (i.e. restaurants), once we establish curbside collection we will look to expand collection to the commercial sector. Currently, the TNRD Solid Waste Management Plan identifies tools to drive organic waste diversion in the commercial sector (including restaurants), as this sector is potentially the largest source of organic waste in the city. These tools include implementing disposal bans, offering cart-based collection to small generators, mandatory organic waste collection requirements, and promotion.
As there are many private haulers offering service to the commercial sector, further planning and consultation is required to ensure organic waste is effectively diverted.
Why is the city starting with households and not multi-family units (like apartments)? Wouldn’t it make more sense the other way around?
There are several reasons that we are starting with curbside collection ahead of multi-family collection. We collect more waste from single-family homes, an estimated 5,900 tonnes of organic waste in single-family vs 1,000 tonnes in multi-family each year, so we can divert more waste by starting with single-family curbside.
Curbside collection is simpler to start with because collection is standardized across the community - every household receives a cart for organics, frequency of collection of garbage and recycling is adjusted, and we could potentially collect this stream with our existing fleet of trucks and routes.
Multi-family collection is varied with respect to the number and size of containers and frequency of collection. More planning is needed to implement multi-family collection, which would be best done once we have gained experience collecting organic waste.
How will the neighbourhoods for the pilot program be selected?
We will select neighbourhoods for the pilot program based on research we are conducting and what we learn during the public engagement phase. We look forward to working with and learning from residents in pilot neighbourhoods.
Will the City provide the kitchen bin?
Yes, the City will provide each residential household a small kitchen bin to collect organic waste in the kitchen.
How do I use the kitchen bin? How big is it?
Place the kitchen bin on a counter or under the sink. Line the bin with newspaper or a paper bag–this helps with ease of emptying the bin and to keep it clean. Put all accepted organics in the bin. Empty the kitchen bin into the curbside organics container and then clean the kitchen bin to minimize odour and fruit flies. The kitchen bin will be about 7 litres in capacity (about 1 cu.ft. in size).
Where can I get kitchen bin liners? Can I use (purchase) retail bin liners?
We recommend lining kitchen bins with newspaper or paper bags, but bins can also be lined with old cereal boxes or any other waste paper. Check out this video on how to make your own kitchen bin liners out of newspaper, sent to us by a resident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-edeA1Smho0.
We can't yet speak to other specific types of (retail) bin liners until we determine the processing (composting) facility where the organic material will go, and what types of liners they will accept.
Does the kitchen bin smell? What about fruit flies?
Kitchen bins will not smell if they are managed properly. Fruit flies are attracted to the smell, so if you can reduce the bad odour you will reduce fruit flies.
To minimize bad odour, empty the kitchen bin often and clean the bin before you fill it again with soap and water. If you have food in the fridge that has gone rotten, freeze it first before putting it in your kitchen bin (or straight out to your cart).
If you have liquids like milk or yogurt that have gone off, we recommend flushing those down the toilet instead of putting them in your organics bin.
In a perfect world, we would eat all the food that we buy and have very little waste that will rot and start to smell bad. Learn more about reducing food waste through the Love Food Hate Waste program at Kamloops.ca/LFHW.
What if I need/want an extra kitchen bin?
We will have an answer for this after we move through Phase 2 (pilot program).
Will the City provide a curbside container?
All single-family and multi-family households that are on curbside collection routes will receive a curbside container for organic waste. This is sometimes referred to as a 'green bin' and will be similar to the containers for garbage and recycling. Throughout the research and pilot program, we will be considering size options for collection containers.
How often will the curbside container get collected?
We are in the process of designing the organic waste collection program. Many other municipalities collect organics weekly, and some communities have seasonal weekly and bi-weekly organics collection.
Garbage collection will likely shift to bi-weekly. During the pilot phase we will be testing weekly organics collection with bi-weekly garbage and recycling collection to see if this model of collection will work in our community. The frequency of collection will be determined after testing in Phase 2 (pilot program).
How do I store the curbside container? Do I need to worry about attracting rodents and/or bears?
The curbside container can be stored with your garbage and recycling containers in your yard or garage. We will ensure that we communicate any specific requirements about organic container storage in alignment with the City's Solid Waste Bylaw (i.e. that carts not be accessible to wildlife).
That said, wildlife is attracted to organic waste, whether that is in the garbage or an organics cart. Currently, organic waste is managed in garbage containers or backyard composters, therefore, the attractant is already present in the current program. Properly managing your containers by securing them on your property or in a garage will minimize wildlife attraction. Containers should be stored with their lids closed at all times.
We are researching best practices with respect to wildlife management and will build these into the program. As part of the overall wildlife strategy, we are also investigating options for bear-resistant containers.
We are also learning that layering food and yard waste in collection carts is a very effective way to reduce odours that attract animals. We will monitor the program and provide continuous education to help residents reduce wildlife impacts.
If I live in an area with bears, are there bear-smart (i.e. locking) curbside containers available?
The City is actively researching curbside container options that would align with the objectives of the curbside organic waste collection program, including maintaining our status as a Bear Smart city. More information regarding potential wildlife-resistant containers will be shared as it becomes available.
What is the best way to keep the curbside container clean?
To keep your curbside container clean, you can line it with newspaper, cardboard, or yard trimmings before adding food scraps to absorb liquid. Layering can help keep the contents dry–you can layer food scraps with dried leaves, dried grass, or dead plants. Place the container out every collection day, even if it isn't full. Rinse your bin occasionally with a garden hose and mild detergent or vinegar and water solution.
Does the City have to get new garbage trucks to be able to collect the curbside containers?
We are in the process of designing the organic waste collection program. While the number of additional trucks needed (if any) to collect organics is yet to be determined, some of the collection models in other cities have alternating bi-weekly garbage and recycling collection with weekly organics collection. If the City uses this model, there would be no need to add additional trucks to the collection fleet.
What happens to the collected organic material? Will it be available for residents to use? If so, will it be free?
We will determine where the organic waste collected will be sent through a competitive purchasing process. There are currently no facilities in Kamloops that can process (compost) food waste at a large scale.
The City has identified composting facilities in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, and other facilities in the province, as potential viable options until a local option emerges.
Details about whether compost would be available to residents and if it would be free will be determined through contract negotiations with the successful processing contractor.
Will my garbage and recycling containers still be collected weekly?
Garbage and recycling collection will likely shift to bi-weekly. We will be gathering information during the pilot phase, testing bi-weekly garbage and recycling collection to see if this model of collection will work in our community.
Will this affect what I can drop off at Cinnamon Ridge? Will that still be free?
The City will continue to operate the yard waste program independent of the proposed curbside organic waste collection program. Residents will still be able to take their yard waste to any of the City’s yard waste drop off depots for free.
How much is this going to cost the City? Will my utility bill go up?
We have applied for grant funding from CleanBC and the Green Municipal Fund which will potentially cover half of the projected $6.5 million dollar cost of all three phases of the program. Individual cost per household will be determined based on the outcomes of the first two project phases as well as any grant funding.
When the program is fully implemented in Phase 3 (July 2023), there will likely be a utility cost for the service, similar to garbage and recycling.
I think there are lots of other things the City needs to spend money on first. Why are we spending money on this?
One of the goals of the organic waste collection program is to extend the life of the Mission Flats Landfill. The landfill space saved by diverting this material will save the City money—approximately $1 million per year. Landfills are an important asset to our community and extending their life is a priority.
I see there is going to be a pilot project. Will there be a cost to me if my neighbourhood is selected for the pilot project?
There will be no cost for pilot program participants.
It is stated that the City would save $1 million annually in costs related to landfill capacity. What does this mean? Can we put that savings towards the organics program operations?
The cost savings of $1M is not a reflection of annual landfill operating expense, but rather the value of landfill airspace saved each year by not burying organic waste.
This airspace then becomes available for consumption by materials that currently cannot be recycled/repurposed and allows the City to defer large-scale capital costs related to landfill expansion.
Based on the most recent waste composition study, 38% of household waste (approximately 5,800 tonnes) is organic waste that can be diverted through curbside organic waste collection.
The estimated $1 million in landfill airpspace savings is calculated by multiplying the amount of airspace saved, by the highest rate for materials that can consume that airspace, so 5,800 tonnes x $160/tonne = $928,000.