Regional Rundown: Community composting is the next step

The potential of re-introducing potentially recyclable material into our garbage stream is very concerning

Discussions around urban deer, user groups in multi-purpose community facilities, even pot holes, tend to generate strong opinions, strong emotions, and get a lot of attention.

There is an aspect to local government services, which — although messier and more smelly — could be argued to be even more important, and that is waste: solid (garbage) and liquid (sewer).

With the creation of Multi-Material BC (MMBC), industry was supposed to begin paying for the collection of an expanded list of recyclable items, and shift costs away from local governments like the District of Invermere, and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).

The rollout of MMBC has not been without its controversy and critics (i.e. the entire newspaper industry), and the level of service proposed for the East Kootenay is almost non-existent, and a huge step back and decrease from the current yellow bin program run by the RDEK. The potential of re-introducing potentially recyclable material into our garbage stream is very concerning, completely preventable, and actually quite sad.

There is another type of product that is in our current garbage stream that shouldn’t be. Without this material, our landfill would operate more efficiently, have less issues with methane gas production, and have a longer life. This material can be easily turned into something usable that could be used to promote and enhance local agriculture. The mystery product is organics, mainly food waste. The mystery process is composting. The missing piece is large-scale collection/separation and processing.

Groundswell has been working with the District of Invermere for the last two years on a small-scale composting exercise using DOI equipment and land.

They collected food waste from several restaurants and businesses, and turn the slop into rich and useable soil. There is a future, with better, more advanced composting technology, a more organized collection of commercial food waste, and a limited program for collecting residential food waste. This could not only be an employment creating economic activity in the valley that would give local governments carbon credits, but it could extend the life of our landfill, saving taxpayers millions of dollars while creating some rich soil, right here, from our garbage, so that it can grow our food.

Let’s start protesting and writing emails in favour of large-scale composting!

Gerry Taft is mayor of the District of Invermere and a Regional District of East Kootenay director for the Columbia Valley. He can be reached at taft.gerry@gmail.com .

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