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For now, mainland favoured for capital’s kitchen scraps

The Capital Regional District should continue to ship local kitchen scraps to Richmond for processing while it looks for a local long-term composting solution, officials say.
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The Capital Regional District's contract with Emterra Environmental in Richmond, with a net cost to the CRD of about $12,000 a month, represents good value, says Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, chairman of the CRD's environmental services committee.

The Capital Regional District should continue to ship local kitchen scraps to Richmond for processing while it looks for a local long-term composting solution, officials say.

“From a cost efficiency and environmental point of view, it certainly seems the best route to pursue now is a permanent, long-term solution where we compost and collect the gases in region,” said Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen, chairman of the CRD’s environmental services committee.

CRD staff are recommending developing a request for proposals for processing kitchen scraps either in the region, likely at a leased site at the Hartland Landfill or a site within 80 kilometres of the landfill, and reporting back to the committee in October.

Jensen said the CRD’s contract with Emterra Environmental in Richmond, with a net cost to the CRD of about $12,000 a month, represents good value.

CRD staff had been examining a number of interim possibilities for processing food scraps, but say capital costs could be about $1.1 million.

“On balance, when you look at the four [interim] alternatives and compare them to Emterra, the Emterra one certainly is environmentally and financially the best interim solution,” Jensen said.

But Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt thinks there may be more affordable interim options that haven’t been fully explored.

The argument against developing local processing facilities essentially boils down to the upfront capital costs, Isitt said. He believes that if the CRD was willing to provide land at Hartland Landfill, private operators would be able to begin processing scraps without a huge capital outlay.

Isitt said industry representatives have told him that they could compost food scraps — if a site at Hartland was available — for about $80 a tonne, about half of the $140 to $150 a tonne the CRD will have to charge for processing in Richmond.

“I think staff need to be looking a bit harder at what is the lowest-cost option for processing this resource,” Isitt said, adding that he supports finding a permanent local option for kitchen scraps.

“I think the longer-term approach in the report is supportable: getting information that will inform the [request for proposals]; going out to the market in the fall; indicating clearly that Hartland is available and that proponents are also welcome to propose other appropriately zoned locations in proximity to the region.”

Despite the lack of local processing facilities, the proposed Jan. 1, 2015, ban on kitchen scraps from the Hartland Landfill should be maintained, staff say.

“When you compare the greenhouse gases that would result from just burying it at Hartland, they are about seven times greater than shipping it to Richmond,” Jensen said. “So in my mind, it wouldn’t make sense to extend the deadline.”

The CRD has been left with no local place to compost food scraps collected in Victoria, View Royal, Esquimalt, Sidney and Oak Bay since it cancelled the licence of Foundation Organics in Central Saanich because of odour and litter complaints.

Saanich, meanwhile, has a separate five-year contract with Fisher Road Recycling in Cobble Hill to compost the estimated 8,000 to 11,000 tonnes of household food scraps and yard waste it collects a year.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com