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Sicamous council considers countertop composters to combat food waste

Compost solution wanted to counter issues with rats, raccoons and other pests
There are two size options of the FoodCycler food waste management appliance, both available at subsidized prices to the District of Sicamous if it chooses to enter into a pilot partnership with Food Cycle Science. (Food Cycle Science image)

An innovative solution for food waste could be coming to Sicamous residents.

At the June 28 district Committee of the Whole meeting, council heard from Jacob Hanlon, program coordinator with Food Cycle Science, a company committed to reducing food waste through its compact compost machine, the FoodCycler.

Hanlon said Food Cycle Science has a presence in schools and residential homes, combating food waste, CO2 and methane emissions and cutting food waste-related costs for municipalities, as well as keeping food waste out of landfills, extending the lifespan of the facilities.

READ MORE: Transfer station a possibility for Sicamous as landfill approaches end of lifespan

Mayor Colleen Anderson said she came upon the FoodCycler at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Toronto in May and wanted to have the company provide a presentation , having had prior conversations with council about Sicamous needing a solution to composting as rats, raccoons and other pests are becoming a problem in the district.

Hanlon pitched the FoodCycler pilot project to council, saying the company has nine municipal partnerships in six provinces and one territory currently.

The FoodCycler is a small kitchen appliance that can process all food, including meat, dairy and even some bones and turn it into a dry, sterile, odourless and nutrient-rich soil-like substance that can then be put into other compost systems, home gardens, given to farms or community gardens and stored indefinitely if kept dry. The machine can process one to three kilograms of food waste per cycle on average, said Hanlon, and is quiet and energy-efficient, using about the same amount of power as a computer plugged in for the approximate eight hours each cycle takes to complete.

He shared the statistics about food waste and his main takeaway was that it is avoidable.

The FoodCycler was selected as a finalist in Impact Canada’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge and won $400,000, said Hanlon, allowing the company to find more Canadian municipalities to invest in and be implementation partners in the project. Municipalities are offered a heavily subsidized price to have residents use the units for 12 weeks, with the number of food waste cycles tracked and an exit review survey completed, with the option to continue with a program designed to the community’s needs with additional grant funding potentially available. Sicamous was asked to be FoodCycler’s next pilot community.

The cost to residents would be either $150 or $300, depending which size and capability of FoodCycler model their household wants. The original prices are $500 or $800 plus shipping and applicable taxes. The base price is discounted with a municipal discount, Impact Canada’s investment and then the municipality, in this case the District of Sicamous, is asked to cover $100 on each unit regardless of size. The FoodCycler then belongs to residents after the pilot.

Program options vary but Hanlon recommended the 100 household scope, which would cost the district $10,000 at $100 per FoodCycler. Hanlon said the company is happy to tailor to the district’s needs and budget and if they want to start smaller, at the 50 unit minimum and then expand, more can easily be delivered. The biodegradable carbon filters, the only maintenance needed, are supplied by the company and Hanlon said in Nelson, they are available for pickup at no charge in stores for residents’ convenience.

The federal funding is expected to run out by the end of this year, said Hanlon, and he assured the district would have right to first refusal on any subsequent funding and programming the company offers.

Chief administrative officer Kelly Bennett said the district has about $60,000 in a Carbon Action Revenue Incentive Program fund that could be used for “potential acquisition.”

Council was interested in the proposal, wanting to relieve the wildlife and pest problem and potentially put in place a program that helps with waste management and environmental stewardship. Council received the report for information, asking staff to correspond with other pilot communities and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, which controls the district’s waste management, and look into incorporating the project into the 2024 budget.

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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