Why the Central Okanagan is just fine with rotting food garbage in its landfills - InfoNews

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Why the Central Okanagan is just fine with rotting food garbage in its landfills

The food waste that goes into your garbage bin will help heat your home after a few years.
Image Credit: Shutterstock
May 04, 2020 - 7:30 AM

While some cities want residents to separate household food wastes from other garbage, the Central Okanagan is fine with it going into the same bag as the rest of your garbage.

That means about 39 per cent of household garbage collected at the curb is actually organic waste. Garbage from the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors is 27 per cent organics.

That’s in addition to the yard waste bins that are composted.

“Different than many other places, we don’t have curbside organic pickup,” Jodie Foster, the Regional District of Central Okanagan’s director of communications, explained. “The organics go to the landfill and, as it decomposes, it creates methane gas. At lots of landfills, that’s actually a problem. Here, what they did many years ago, they created a capture system for the methane and it's funnelled back to Fortis B.C. and it’s sold as a natural gas.”

That system has been in place for at least 15 years but, while it generates some revenue, that doesn’t cover the full cost of collecting the gas, Scott Hoekstra, the City of Kelowna’s solid waste supervisor said.

The garbage is piled three to four metres deep, then covered with a layer of soil that traps the odors and methane gas in and keeps water out, which prevents leaching.

Perforated pipes are dug in and, after a couple of years, a small vacuum starts sucking the gas out so it can be sent off to Fortis B.C. where it is decontaminated and sold.

Each section can produce gas for 15 to 20 years. There are now about 20 kms of pipes throughout the Glenmore landfill. As one layer is finished, a new lift of garbage is piled on top.

While that system works well, the provincial government has told the regional district that it must re-evaluate that process and report back by 2030.

So, is it better to put your food wastes in your garbage bin or in your back-yard composting bin?

“Whatever you can do for waste reduction, i.e. not sending it to the landfill, is a positive,” Hoekstra said.

After all, the money paid by Fortis doesn’t fully cover the cost of the recovery system, let alone the cost of transporting the garbage to the dump in the first place.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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