Garbage, recycling and composting programs are saving money

A City of Abbotsford report estimates $316,000 will be saved this year.

Recyclables diverted from the landfill

Recyclables diverted from the landfill

Abbotsford’s new composting, recycling and garbage disposal program will save the city an estimated $316,000 relative to last year, according to a city report.

The projected savings are based on a preliminary audit of the program, which found a high diversion of materials from landfills. The savings are due to lower disposal fees for recycling and compostables, as well as lower contractor collection rates and the closure of the city-owned yard waste drop-off, which was replaced by a privately owned compost facility.

The report acknowledges that the costs are based on limited data – solely the first quarter of the year – “as well as a number of assumptions.” It states that the projected costs are uncertain, but would be affected positively with increased participation in the composting and recycling programs.

The city began collecting curbside compost on Jan. 1, 2013. At that time, garbage collection was reduced to bi-weekly, while recycling pick-up remained weekly.

In March, Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) conducted the preliminary garbage audit, randomly selecting 100 homes – 80 rural and 20 urban. They physically examined the material collected from the homes, and categorized it as garbage, recyclable or compostable, in order to assess the effectiveness of the program.

In the first quarter of 2013, 60.5 per cent of waste was diverted – meaning placed in recycling or compost containers – compared to 33.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2012.

In March and April, 326 randomly selected homes within designated rural and urban areas were assessed for participation in the program. Staff did not physically audit the contents of the containers, but noted whether the homes set out compostables for collection.

Participation varied throughout the city, with the highest urban compliance in central Abbotsford at 85 per cent, and the lowest urban participation on Eagle Mountain at 70 per cent.

For rural areas, participation in the program was highest on Sumas Prairie, at 49 per cent, and lowest on Sumas Mountain at 22 per cent.

On average, 36 per cent of rural homes and 79 per cent or urban homes placed compostables out for collection.

The city will conduct a more comprehensive audit in July.