Resource Recovery Plan
RDCK's new Resource Recovery Plan
The RDCK is pleased to announce that their 2021 Resource Recovery Plan, created with the assistance of a multi-stakeholder advisory commitee and consultants, has been officially submitted to the BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy for review and approval. Once approved, it will replace the previous 2010 Plan and serve to guide recycling, composting, landfilling; and ensure sustainable waste management practices for years to come.
It's called a Resource Recovery Plan, because when 'waste' products can be used for something else, such as growing food, they become a resource.
Solid waste management in the RDCK has evolved from burning and dumping, to our current modern system designed to meet stringent regulatory requirements and the needs of our vast region. The system has many moving parts including municipal and private collection services, recycling depots, transfer stations, and landfills; take-back programs for everything from beverage containers to lightbulbs to small appliances; plus taking care of yesterday’s messes to make sure they don’t pose a risk to the environment.
Ideally, only when it can’t be Reused, Repurposed or Recycled is it garbage for landfilling; every new solution is a step in this direction. Less is More.
What is a Resource Recovery Plan?
A Resource Recovery Plan (RRP) is a plan that all BC regional districts must prepare and update every ten years. Our previous RRPs have focused on improving our disposal system by closing old dumps, building transfer stations and regional landfills, and making recycling accessible to everyone. Thanks to all of our efforts over the past few years, our current waste disposal system is significantly better. We are enthusiastic recyclers, but there’s room for improvement.
The new RRP contains three main strategies:
- Zero Waste - reducing what we send to the landfill
- Residual Waste - securing landfill capacity for the long-term and meeting regulatory requirements
- Financial & Administrative - supporting the actions in the RRP
Strategy One: The Path to Zero Waste
This RRP proposes several strategies to decrease landfilling while increasing the focus on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink, including:
- Events and campaigns that encourage waste reduction and reuse.
- Organic waste diversion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save landfill capacity.
- Increase participation in recycling by residents.
- Encourage our businesses and institutions to maximize their participation in recycling and waste reduction.
- Encourage and support the diversion and highest end use of construction, demolition and renovation waste.
- Encourage broad availability of extended producer responsibility (EPR) in the RDCK and support the expansion of EPR programs.
- Support the establishment of a circular economy.
- Continue education and outreach.
- Develop a regional illegal dumping strategy and support community clean ups.
What is Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP)?
EPR is a provincial policy that aims to shift responsibility for product disposal and recycling to manufacturers and away from local governments. EPR take-back programs allow consumers to return products including paint, batteries, small appliances, motor oil, smoke detectors and electronics to a depot or retailer. To find out what you can take back and where, go to RCBC.ca.
Strategy Two: Residual Waste - Managing Garbage Responsibly
How can we improve the efficiencies of our waste transfer and disposal systems while meeting regulatory requirements and ensuring environmental protection? These are some of the major activities planned:
- At the Creston Landfill: This landfill is estimated to have 30 more years of useful life. Continued use of the site is dependent on receiving approval from the Province. The RDCK hopes to acquire some additional land around the site to extend the buffer between the landfill operation and surrounding land uses.
- At the Nakusp Landfill: The Nakusp Landfill will be closing in a few years and replaced with a transfer station.
- At the Ootischenia Landfill: A recent study identified a way to optimize the use of the site, with minimal change to the final appearance of the landfill. The new design will approximately double the capacity of the landfill, and significantly lower the cost per cubic meter of landfill space.
- Historic Landfills: There are several small landfills that are no longer used. Some of these sites may need additional closure works to ensure the long-term protection of the environment. These sites will be assessed in the next few years to determine what’s required, and then final closure activities can proceed.
- Hazardous Material Assessments for Demolition and Renovation Projects: In recent years we’ve all become more aware of the potential for exposure to hazardous materials in waste, such as asbestos, from demolition and renovation projects. To ensure the safety of waste collectors, staff and our contractors, it’s recommended that a hazardous materials assessment be required prior to disposal of demolition or renovation waste at RDCK facilities.
Strategy Three: Financial and Administrative
As waste management becomes more complex, our capital and operating costs have increased. To meet regulatory requirements and service expectations, the RDCK will continue to make significant capital investments in the Resource Recovery system. The pie chart shows the general breakdown of the operating costs.
Costs are expected to continue to increase over time to maintain current operations, meet regulatory requirements, and build reserves for the long-term maintenance of our facilities. To keep the system financially sustainable, the RRP proposes that the RDCK undertake a system efficiency study and identify options to improve its cost effectiveness and equitability across the region.
Organics Waste Diversion
A feature of the Resource Recovery Plan is the Organic Waste Diversion Strategy. Diverting organic waste from landfills has been identified by the provincial government as a solid waste management priority. The RDCK has engaged with community stakeholders, municipal partners and consultants to develop a draft strategy for managing organics and removing them from the waste stream.
Organic waste refers to food scraps, yard waste and compostable paper products such as used paper towels. The RDCK already reuses yard waste, and will expand to composting both yard waste and food scraps. This will result in saving landfill space while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Here is what is included in the RRP:
- Two food waste composting facilities, one in Creston and one near Salmo.
- Creston, Castlegar and Nelson will start curbside collection of food scraps in 2022. Organic waste transfer facilities are being set up at the Grohman Narrows Transfer Station and the Ootischenia Landfill.
- Strategies to encourage businesses and institutions that generate food waste, such as grocery stores and cafeterias, to send their food waste for composting.
- Support municipalities that want to set up their own organic waste diversion solutions.
- Support residents who want to reduce or recycle food waste at home.
Still being considered:
- Expanded curbside collection of food scraps in parts of the RDCK.
- A composting facility in Nakusp following the closure of the landfill.
Curbside Collection of Food Scraps and Garbage
Roughly one-quarter of what we throw away is food, which, when decomposing in a landfill, generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. What a waste! Especially when you consider that food scraps can be recycled into useful compost. Generally, participation in composting significantly increases when convenient curbside services are made available. As a result, many urban and rural communities throughout BC now have curbside collection programs for food scraps.
Curbside collection of food scraps for Creston, Castlegar and Nelson residents is expected to begin in 2022. The collected material will go to new composting facilities being built at Creston and Salmo.
As these three municipalities represent only 33% of households in the RDCK, the RDCK Board has directed staff to consider setting up a regional curbside garbage and food scraps collection service for electoral areas and smaller municipalities that request the service. This potential service could expand curbside collection to over 80% of RDCK households, which in turn would increase waste diversion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What are Food Scraps?
Food scraps include vegetable and fruit peels, coffee grounds and eggshells - items that many people manage by way of back yard composting; but they also include meat and fish, bones, breads, dairy, fats, cooked food leftovers, and food soiled paper - not compatible with most backyard composting systems.
Why Curbside Collection?
Many residents are already keeping organics, like fruit and vegetable peelings, out of the landfill by composting at home. This certainly is the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to recycle these materials and produce a useful compost for the yard and garden.
Most residents, however, do not compost ALL food scraps: cooked leftovers, meat, fish, bones, dairy, breads, food-soiled paper packaging – are all items that can be easily processed in a modern composting facility. Composting these items at home can attract wildlife such as bears and rodents into the community.
At present, more than half of the households in the region haul their own garbage and pay tipping fees for their food scraps and garbage. Some electoral area residents subscribe to a private waste collection service.
Not only could a curbside collection service reduce wildlife interactions and trips to our facilities, it would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and, when all homes in a community are paying for it together, it is likely to be cheaper than hauling it yourself.
Where are the potential collection areas?
Creston, Castlegar and Nelson will start curbside collection of food scraps in 2022. This map provides a rough sketch of the potential collection areas outside of these three municipalities, shown in orange. These areas were selected based on housing density and proximity to a composting facility (existing and potential). The collection areas are roughly defined for the purposes of determining where there may be interest in a collection service for garbage and food scraps.
What's included? How Often? How Much?
If there is support for a collection service in some parts of the RDCK, the service would collect household food scraps and garbage. It is anticipated that weekly collection of food scraps, and every-other week collection of garbage. The estimated cost for such a service would be between $135-$180 per year, which for most families is likely less expensive than the tipping fees and fuel to haul garbage to a landfill or transfer station. This user fee would only be charged to homes within the collection service area.
What about curbside recycling?
In time we hope that the curbside service can expand to include recycling. At present, Recycle BC (the organization responsible for residential recycling in the Province) does NOT fund curbside recycling in electoral areas. However, it is anticipated that future Recycle BC policy changes may allow us to obtain access to funding for this service.
The final stage in developing the 2021 RDCK Resource Recovery Plan was public consultation, which took place in June 2021. The objectives of consultation were:
- Ensure a broad range of perspectives are considered during the development of an updated regional solid waste management plan.
- Provide opportunities for public and stakeholder input into future waste management programs and services.
- Increase support for solid waste management planning and programs.
- Ensure documentation provided gives sufficient information to enable stakeholders and the public to determine how their interests may be affected.
- Promote opportunities to learn about the RRP development and ensure that the stakeholders and the public has been given ample notice for the opportunities available to provide input.
- Ensure that proceedings and outcomes from the consultation process have been well documented and made available to the stakeholders and the public, so that they are able to see how the RRP addresses their comments or issues.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the Resource Recovery Plan update, please contact Todd Johnston, Environmental Coordinator, at (250) 352-1523 or RRP@rdck.bc.ca.
The content on this page was last updated January 10 2022 at 1:14 PM