More options for food waste

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Editor: Last year, a waste characterization study completed for the Town of Canmore showed that over a third of our waste stream consists of food scraps that can be kept out of the landfill by putting a food scraps collection and diversion program in place.

A potential organics collection solution that has been proposed by the Town is to encourage installation of food waste disposers (garburators) in all Canmore residences, to collect, grind and transport the food scraps to the wastewater treatment plant.

We commend the Town for undertaking a study to examine the potential impacts of food waste disposers on the wastewater treatment plant.

Although food waste disposers may seem like a relatively straightforward option for the Town, we also encourage the Town to consider and further investigate the following:

•There are many fibrous and hard food scraps that food waste disposers cannot process. Research studies conducted by InSinkErator, a prominent food waste disposer manufacturer, state that food waste disposers result in a 30 per cent reduction of food scraps in the waste stream. This leaves 70 per cent of food scraps not collected and diverted using this technology,

•Numerous Canadian communities actively discourage the use of garburators, because it costs more to treat food scraps this way and due to concerns regarding impacts on the wastewater treatment plant. These communities include Metro Vancouver, Calgary and Cochrane.

•Although food waste disposers can be a convenient tool for organic waste diversion in some situations, we have not come across any communities in North America that use food waste disposers as their primary tool for organic waste diversion, despite extensive online research. We would welcome to be shown an example where food waste disposers have led to high levels of organic waste diversion across an entire community.

•Based on the 2016 Canmore census, it would cost $3.1 million to purchase and install a food waste disposer in every Canmore residence (at a cost of ~$500/residence). Food waste disposers have a life span of 10-12 years. Who will pay for this significant investment every decade?

•Has the Town of Canmore found any information or statistics regarding compliance rates for residential garburator use within any other municipalities?

We strongly encourage the Town to conduct a full economic, environmental and social comparison of a variety of organics collection and diversion options, prior to moving forward with a chosen path – including consideration of a neighbourhood container collection program, such as those currently used in Jasper and Banff.

Diana MacGibbon, Doug Saul, Shannon Zirnhelt,

(CORE, Canmore Organics REcycling)

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