CRD finds local solution to kitchen-scraps program

Some Sooke residents question the program's efficiency, cost

With the Capital Regional District recently awarding a new kitchen scraps contract to D.L. Bins Ltd., the program is here to stay — and possibly grow — in the coming years.

But despite the program’s extension in the municipality, concerns among Sookies continue about its environmental impact, efficiency and cost.

Number 1 is proper disposal and where the organic refuse ends up; a concern that, technically, shouldn’t really be that concerning, noted Tom Watkins, CRD’s solid waste operations manager, pointing out that there are consequences for those who either mix garbage with kitchen scraps, or treat scraps as garbage.

“Anyone who wants to dump it as garbage is running the risk of coming against the bylaw,” he said, adding that regardless of whether it gets mixed up in different bags or different garbage trucks, the violation will be caught anyway at the Heartland landfill in Saanich, where everything gets processed.

And it’s not even a matter of saving money either.

“We take it in at the same load that we would take garbage at, so there is no incentive for anybody to mix the two together to try to save money, because you’re paying the same thing,” Watkins said.

If the haulers themselves are dishonest about what they’re bringing in, they run the risk of getting caught and ticketed by the municipality on a load by load basis, ranging between $100 and $200.

Not that such practices are encouraged among haulers, said Mike Winters, co-owner of Sooke Disposal, who uses two separate trucks — one for waste and one for kitchen waste — when servicing the local community.

“People have a choice if they want garbage or composting, or both. It all gets separated in a roll-off container and we dump into that,” Winters said, adding that at Heartland, their trucks get weighed, along with a cost of $110 per metric ton.

His company hauls around 3 tonnes a day from Sooke just in kitchen stuff, which goes to Saanich and back down to a composting facility in Victoria.

And despite reservation from some, the program is still fairly popular, noted Watkins.

“Most people want to do the right thing, so if they’re provided with the right mechanisms, they’ll take part,” he said.

Watkins suggested that if a homeowner is suspect of the service not playing by the rules, they look elsewhere for a provider that they trust.

There are alternatives, however, albeit not as universal, where residents needn’t rely on haulers. As such, one can choose home composting in areas that are larger and more rural, as long as it stays within the rules.

“[A backyard composter] is far more cost-effective than having it picked up and transported all over the place and processed somewhere else,” Watkins said, adding that people should still check what they put in their compost piles in their yards, as doing otherwise will attract vermin and other undesirables.