The Central Okangaan Regional District board approved a contract for reviewing, assessing and providing options for organic solid waste management in the Central Okanagan.
According to Peter Rotheisler, regional waste reduction manager, the assessment will look at all of the organic waste streams including: yard and garden waste, wood waste, food waste and biosolids, which are the residue from waste water treatment plants.
“In order to do this type of assessment, we need to have expertise that we don’t have in house. Specifically, we need people with experience using life cycle assessment models,” said Rotheisler.
Of the seven companies that bid for the assessment, SLR Consulting Limited’s bid was determined to be the most favourable.
Rotheisler said the time is now for the assessment for a variety of reasons.
“One of the reasons is that there are a lot of questions from the public and politicians regarding how we’re going to manage our food waste in the future,” said Rotheisler.
“The other aspects have to do with problems that we’re encountering with our current method for managing some of our solid organic waste materials.”
One of those problems is finding a market for clean wood.
“There used to be a good market through Tolko, which could use it in their cogeneration facility to generate heat and electricity, but they are under some heavy scrutiny (from the Ministry of Environment) regarding the emissions that facility is emitting.
“They’re worried about the contamination within our clean lumber. Things like paints and adhesives and any material that you may find attached to some of that clean lumber. Even though we do our best to ensure the best quality that we can, there are still things that get through and end up being problematic when they combust the material.”
According to Rotheisler, another issue is that the province is looking at changing the organic matter recycling regulation, which regulates major composting operations and regulates the types of materials that can, and can’t, be composted.
“They’re looking at making some changes that may impact some of the things that we currently compost. Some of our current programs are vulnerable to some of these changes and are being put into question.”
Rotheisler said that the biggest reason for the assessment is to find solutions for managing food waste, which is estimated to generate more than 30,000 metric tonnes every year to the Central Okanagan solid waste stream. “Food waste is the main organic solid waste component that we’re not doing anything special with. We’re landfilling it. There are numerous techniques that need to be looked at by combining different organic solid waste materials and seeing if there are any economies of scale there by combining multiple organic waste streams.”