Composting business looks at Sooke site

CRD kitchen scraps could eventually end up trucked to Sooke

The Capital Regional District may have jettisoned the kitchen scrap collection program for the time being but plans were made to have the truck loads of organic materials come to Sooke to be made into compost.

Apparently the District of Sooke staff had met with principals of South Island Organics to tour them around a site at the sewer wastewater treatment plant where they might process the compost.

Paul Hooper, general manager of South Island Organics, said they held a public meeting in Sooke in the spring of 2010 to outline their plans to build a composting facility.

“It shouldn’t be any big secret, we had a lot of discussions and meetings,” said Hooper.

Mayor Wendal Milne said the idea was looked at as the district pays about $150,000 a year to haul bio-solids to the landfill.

“We’re just musing,” said Milne, “to see if there is a business opportunity for Sooke. We talked generally, there is nothing concrete.”

Milne said the issue was whether Sooke would want to do it. Any composting business would need to be located close to a sewer treatment plant.

The long and the short of this story, said Hooper, is that the whole project is on hold. South Island Organics was selected as the private-sector corporation that would turn kitchen scraps into compost.

Hooper said they planned to use high temperatures to kill any pathogens in the waste and the resulting compost would then be sold, with locals getting free Class A compost yearly.

“It’s stalled right now, we had the lowest price and we had a good site selected,” he said.

Apparently what came forward as an issue was the trucking of the kitchen waste, which would have been approximately 14,000 tonnes annually from throughout the CRD. The trucking angle has to be restructured because some municipalities have union truckers while others do not. The kitchen waste would have been hauled to three transfer stations, said Hooper, and trucks with large capacity would bring the material into Sooke every few days.

“The truck traffic would have been minimal,” he said.

Hooper said the CRD is delaying any decisions until spring and a new RFP would be put out then.

This is valued at about $4.3 million per year to the contract winner.

Meanwhile Saanich is launching a curbside collection pilot project next April and the City of Victoria is launching a similar pilot project in January 2013. Victoria will truck their kitchen scraps 48 kilometres over the Malahat, although the Sooke site would cut the trip down to 38 kilometres.

The Saanich News reports that once South Island Organics secures a feedstock contract they could be open within six months.

“It has to be a good deal for Sooke,” said Milne. “There are tons of environmental issues.”

With files from Saanich News