Elk Valley Rejoins Regional Composting Strategy & Sparwood/Elkford Yellow Bin Community Depots

Elk Valley Opts Back In to Regional Organics Program
The Elk Valley will once again be part of the regional organics program after the Elk Valley Directors reversed a decision earlier this year and voted in favour of re-joining the East Kootenay Regional Organics Strategy and constructing an organics processing facility at the Sparwood Transfer Station.

“This decision means the Elk Valley Subregion will benefit by having a facility to process yard and garden waste and create a future opportunity for the general public to participate in more wide scale organics composting,” explains RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson. “Other benefits include creating a useful end product, reducing our transportation costs by not moving waste outside the region and saving landfill space, and reducing methane and leachate production from landfills.”

In the spring of 2019, the RDEK successfully received over $646,000 in funding for the Regional Organics Strategy through the BC Organics Infrastructure Program. This works out to 66% capital funding for Phase 1, which includes the construction of organics processing facilities in each of the RDEK’s three subregions: Central, Columbia Valley and Elk Valley. Each of the subregions has also committed $166,000 in funding over five years to complete Phase 1 construction, which is expected to be complete by 2022.

Phase 2 of the project will focus on the collection of organic material and will be rolled out over 5 years between 2022 and 2026.

Currently, the Elk Valley pays $73/tonne to haul and dispose of its solid waste at the Central Subregion Landfill. The operational cost of the Elk Valley facility is expected to be approximately $50/tonne. As operating costs have been a key focus of discussion, the Elk Valley Directors also passed a resolution at the May Board Meeting that the operating costs per tonne not exceed the cost per tonne of hauling and tipping waste at the Central Landfill.

In the most recent waste audit, compostable organics made up 29% of the RDEK’s waste stream and having more options to deal with organics was widely supported by the public through the Solid Waste Management Plan Review process. In addition, the Regional Organics Strategy is supportive of the Province’s CleanBC target of 95% organics diversion by 2030.

This phase of the Regional Organics Strategy is being led by the RDEK’s Community Energy Manager and further program updates will be provided throughout the various stages of the project.

Three Community Yellow Bin Depots to be Moved June 1

Three community yellow bin depots will soon be removed in Sparwood and Elkford as changes in the way residential recycling is handled aim to shift more recyclables into the Recycle BC system.

“The provincially-regulated Recycle BC program is changing the way we manage our residential recycling. It not only provides more options for residents, it provides guaranteed markets at a time when smaller, independent programs are struggling to find markets and experiencing unprecedented high costs when they do,” explains RDEK Environmental Services Manager Kevin Paterson. “Recycle BC is only for residential recycling, so the yellow bin program remains in place at businesses, schools, and in our rural areas; however, we are moving away from having collections of yellow bins – known as community depots – in our municipalities in order to encourage those recyclables to be taken to the Recycle BC Depot.”

The Recycle BC program accepts more than 76 additional recyclables than the yellow bins, and it pays the RDEK over $125/tonne for every tonne collected in the program. The public can recycle far less in the yellow bins and its costs taxpayers an average of $325/tonne for every tonne collected. That is a total difference of $450/tonne.

With a more robust, cost effective option for residents, the Elk Valley Directors have directed staff to remove the community depots and provide additional education around the Recycle BC program to help support the public’s transition to the new system. “We’ve had the yellow bin system for over 20 years with very few changes in that time, so we recognize this is a change for people. To help with the transition, we will have staff at the yellow bin community depots over the next few weeks sharing information and answering questions before the bins are removed,” adds Paterson.

The community depot locations that are being removed June 1st include:
• Elkford: Fording River Road Depot
• Sparwood: Sparwood Heights Baseball Field and Englemann Spruce Drive

The Yellow Bins will remain in place for local businesses and schools; this change only affects the community depots at the above noted locations.

Recycle BC Depots in the Elk Valley, they are located at the Fernie, Elkford and Sparwood Transfer Stations. The hours of the Elkford Transfer Station have also been expanded to increase access for the public to the site.