Editor’s note: this is the second part of a two-part series that first ran on September 25th.
The Groundswell Network Society began researching community composting in 2011 in response to community interest expressed during the Imagine Invermere 2030 public input process.
With the support of Enterprising Non-Profits of BC and the District of Invermere, Groundswell carried out a Community Composting Feasibility analysis focused initially on the District of Invermere. The feasibility study led to the development of a business plan.
As our analysis and understanding of large scale composting expanded so did the circle of discussion. It quickly became evident that composting, if it is to be an effective program, needs to be regional in its operation. To this end, representatives of the Regional District of East Kootenay, the Village of Radium Hot Springs, District of Invermere staff and council, and members of the Imagine Invermere 2030 committee met to discuss the outcomes of Groundswell’s feasibility and business plans and discuss how we might collaborate on a regional composting program.
As with every initiative, cost and benefits are important considerations and while some of these are very measurable, some are more difficult to determine. Up front capital costs to set up a central composting facility are significant, but so too are the long-term beneficial financial returns on waste stream reduction and increasing the longevity of our regional landfill.
Environmentally, reducing methane production from landfills has a positive impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions; methane has thirty times more negative impact on climate change than carbon dioxide, and landfills are the biggest single source of methane production. Economically, in addition to waste management cost savings, centralized composting has the added potential to create employment.
Groundswell proposed and successfully conducted a small-scale trial this summer with the support of Invermere, the regional district and local businesses. We collected compostable waste from six business sources over an eight-week period and mixed this with aged wood chips and paper shreddings in the District of Invermere’s public works yard.
We built two 50 foot windrows containing approximately 16,000 litres of compostable waste. Throughout the trial, carbon and nitrogen ratios, temperatures and moisture levels were monitored and recorded. Regular turning kept the windrows “cooking” and some high-tech composting covers were deployed. The whole operation was completed odour-free with no negative wildlife interactions and built some muscles and new skills for our Groundswell youth summer interns.
On Tuesday, October 15th from 10 a.m. to noon, Groundswell will be holding “Travels along the waste stream,” an event that involves a public tour of our composting trial at the public works yard and a visit to the Regional Landfill with regional district staff. The purpose of the tour is to share what has been learned, answer questions and learn more about our regional and community waste management strategies.
Interested participants are requested to RSVP Groundswell at 250-342-3337 or by e-mail. Visit groundswellnetwork.ca for some short YouTube videos about the trial.