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City compost program increases waste diversion to 67 per cent

Net Zero Waste facility composts Abbotsford
Net Zero Waste facility composts Abbotsford's organic waste.
— image credit: File photo

Abbotsford's curbside collection program diverted 67 per cent of waste last year compared to 43 per cent in 2012 – saving an additional 5,400 tonnes from the landfill.

In January 2013, the city implemented a new program of collecting organic waste weekly, along with recycling, and reducing garbage pick-up to bi-weekly.

The program also led to a higher operating surplus – $345,000 – compared to 2012, when the city has a surplus of $144,000.

Any additional diversion from garbage to compostables and recycling in 2014 will result in additional savings to the city.

But staff notes that there are upcoming changes that could impact the city's program.

The city opted out of the new provincial plan for Multi-Material BC (MMBC), which aims to make producers pay for packaging and printed paper and would assume responsibility for curbside pick-up in communities. But with the program beginning operation province-wide in May, the city could enter into an agreement with MMBC in the future, impacting Abbotsford's waste collection.

As the city opposes Metro Vancouver's plans to build another waste-to-energy garbage incinerator, the city will look to find alternatives to using the Metro Vancouver Matsqui Transfer Station. This will help the city avoid the significant increase in Metro tipping fees which are scheduled to start next year and ensure the city's money is not contributing to the incinerator plan.

The city is also currently conducting consultations with food services, processing businesses and multi-family properties for a food-waste diversion plan, which could significantly impact waste diversion.

Jim Gordon, the city's manager of engineering and regional utilities, explained that staff are now working to include apartments and businesses, "so we can gradually push our diversion up and up so the discussion of burning garbage isn't event relevant anymore."

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