Organic waste program in the early planning stages

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is examining the idea of introducing a region-wide green bin organic waste program.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is examining the idea of introducing a region-wide green bin organic waste program.

“It’s on the work plan to have discussions around the possibility of developing the backbone of a regional organic program,” said RDEK environmental services manager Kevin Paterson, adding the work is being done in conjunction with the East Kootenay Energy Manager Meghan Lohmann.

“We’re quite a way from actually having a program, we’re certainly still in the infant stage but the (RDEK) directors have made it a priority,” said Mr. Paterson.

The discussions are so preliminary that the RDEK and Lohmann still have not worked out whether the program would operate at the regional level — with one program for the entire RDEK — or at the sub regional level, with one program specifically for the Upper Columbia Valley, another for Cranbrook-Kimberley, and so on.

But, according to Paterson, the general idea would be for the new green bin program to mimic the RDEK’s current yellow bin program, which operates for recyclables.

“It would be a fairly efficient way to provide that (organic waste) service given the low population density and rural nature of the region,” said Paterson. “We simply don’t have a dense enough population to offer the same kind of green bin services that some of Canada’s larger urban centres do. So for us it has to be about striking a balance between delivering an effective, efficient service and still making it economical.”

The green bin program, like the yellow bin program, would target large, organic waste producers, such as restaurants and grocers, with each business more or less getting its own green bin under the provision that it also keeps the bin open for general public use.

Paterson added it would then be up to local governments in each municipality if they wanted to add a localized curbside pickup green bin program. The yellow bin program — which has resulted in 660 yellow bin throughout the region — has so far been a success and, in many ways, helped clear the way for the idea of a similar green bin program.

“The yellow bin program is almost like a hybrid curbside pickup. There are not yellow bins everywhere, but there are quite a lot in all the main hubs across the region,” said Paterson.

He added the RDEK is quite excited that Lohmann is back again as energy manager after a hiatus and is looking forward to turning the green bin program from idea into reality.