Scrap collection for multi-family homes?

PoCo garbage trucks. - TRI-CITY NEWS
PoCo garbage trucks.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS

Port Coquitlam’s kitchen and garden waste collection system could expand to include multi-family residences as early as the spring, if council approves.

Igor Zahynacz, the city’s director of engineering, said staff is looking at implementing the program in April after a pilot project recently wrapped up with mostly positive results.

Three multi-unit buildings participated in the project, where kitchen waste and yard trimmings were separated out from the regular garbage stream and collected by the city.

While residents of single-family homes can already take advantage of the collection program, multi-family complexes generally contract their own garbage collection services with private firms. If council approves the expansion of the kitchen waste program, townhouses and apartment buildings would receive green waste pickup.

“This is not a brand-new program,” Zahynacz said. “Some of our staff did go to Bellingham to look at their operations and other cities have similar [programs].”

According to a report to the environmental enhancement committee last week, roughly 69% of the units involved in the pilot program participated in the green waste study. But the report acknowledged only 19 of a possible 117 questionnaires were returned and a phone survey to determine participation rates netted just 13 responses.

Zahynacz said that while the survey is not scientifically valid, it does provide important information staff would use if it rolls out the full program in the spring.

“What we wanted to do is identify issues that could come up in Port Coquitlam,” he said. “Even though it is not a huge sample size, I think we get enough general information to see what the pros and cons are for the city to consider.”

Of the 19 people that filled out the surveys, most responses were positive. Ninety-four per cent of respondents said they would like to continue the program while 6% (two people) said they would prefer the program not be implemented.

Odour was not as big a concern as originally thought, according to the survey results, which found the areas where the carts were located were generally kept tidy.

Still, education would be a factor if the program moves ahead as many plastic bags and non-organic materials were thrown in with the green waste, said the city report.

Two 42-unit buildings on Hawthorne Avenue and a 33-unit complex on Shaughnessy Street — the buildings that participated in the program — each disposed of an average of 2.16 kg of kitchen scraps per collection, or 3.64 kg worth of material when garden trimmings were added.

Staff believe that implementing the program city-wide could push the waste-diversion rate from its current 63% to 70% by 2015.

But participation in the expanded green waste collection system wouldn’t be mandatory. It would be up to a strata council to approve a resolution allowing the initiative, which would add $12 a year to a homeowners’ property tax bill.

It would cost the city $40,000 if council approves the implementation of the expanded green waste program, money that would mostly be used for education purposes.

New carts would not be a big expense, according to Zahynacz, who said the city has received many 240-litre waste bins after it introduced the 180 l bins earlier this year. Those switching to the smaller containers give their larger containers back to the city.

The expanded kitchen waste collection program could be running in time for Earth Week, which begins on April 18.

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