Trash to cash – Abbotsford looks at curbside composting

It’s time for Abbotsford residents to take a closer look at their garbage.

  • Apr. 21, 2011 7:00 a.m.
In the near future

In the near future

It’s time for Abbotsford residents to take a closer look at their garbage.

Food scraps, grass clippings and other compostable waste are at the centre of a new initiative being proposed to Abbotsford council. A city-wide curbside compostable collection program is being examined and could start by early 2012.

According to a staff report, more than half the garbage thrown out by Abbotsford residents consists of compostable waste. It’s trash that may no longer be welcome.

Earlier this year, Metro Vancouver announced that food waste and compostables will be banned from garbage collection. And while the final details aren’t set, staff are assuming those rules will apply to the Matsqui transfer station.

However, there are other motivations to change.

According to Tracy Kyle, the city’s director of water and solid waste, the new program is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Food waste and compostables have a lower tipping fee than regular garbage, by as much as $20-$25 per tonne, and can be turned into a usable by-product.

“It will be marketed in some fashion,” said Kyle, although specifics are not yet available.

Presently, Abbotsford’s t yard waste goes to The Answer Garden Products on Huntingdon Road and is eventually sold as topsoil.

Several communities send compostables to Fraser Richmond Biocycle, Vancouver’s largest supplier of topsoil and compost, which sells its product to garden shops and other municipalities.

“Most people don’t realize where their topsoil comes from,” said Kyle.

Homeowners will be given kitchen containers to collect compostables, while the existing yard waste containers can be used for curbside collection.

Staff examined several options for the collection process and are recommending the city collect all three streams of waste (recycling, compostable and garbage) from the west half of the city, while a private contractor be hired to collect from the east side. Recycling and compostables will be collected weekly, while garbage will be picked up once every two weeks.

The annual cost of such a system is estimated at $4.4 million. Currently, the city pays about $4.5 million per year for garbage pick-up.

“It was the least expensive of all the options we examined,” said Kyle.

Kyle said proposals have been requested for a processing facility – either a local transfer station or composting site.