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New composting technologies sought for Nelson

This automated composter, called The Rocket, can turn food scraps into soil in just 14 days. It’s one of several high-tech options available for large scale composting.  - web photo
This automated composter, called The Rocket, can turn food scraps into soil in just 14 days. It’s one of several high-tech options available for large scale composting.
— image credit: web photo

When it comes to on-site composting technologies to process organic waste, a simple bin in the yard is only the beginning.

The City of Nelson plans to hire a consultant to review composting technologies that could be used at a neighbourhood, institutional or multi-family scale to divert organic materials for the landfill. As well, the consultant will be asked to research grants that could be used to support local trials for these new kinds of composters.

“There are really good technologies out there that would make sense somewhere like Nelson Landing or the hospital,” councillor Donna Macdonald said at Monday’s council meeting, where there was a unanimous vote in support of going ahead with the review.

Several municipalities have already done their own research on composting options, which the Nelson review could use as a starting place, according to Macdonald.

In Metro Vancouver, for example, a consultant looked at numerous composting technologies capable of processing from 20 to 100 tonnes of organic waste annually and were being used everywhere from high-density housing blocks to college campuses.

Macdonald said on-site composting is particularly attractive for institutions and apartment complexes that are paying to have their waste hauled away.

“By investing in a little on-site composter, they could actually begin to save money [on waste removal],” Macdonald said, “and they would be producing compost for their gardening or whatever they like to use it for.”

There is a long term plan for the Regional District of Central Kootenay to develop an organics collection program, which would require users to pay a fee to have their compostables shipped to a central location for processing.

But that’s five or ten years down the road, and a made-in-Nelson solution could take effect much sooner.

Councillor Deb Kozak noted that organic matter accounts for around 45 per cent of what’s picked up through curb side garbage collection.

“Considering that we’re looking at some big changes in terms of where our transfer station will be located,” Kozak said, referring to the local dump site being moved four kilometres outside city limits, “if we can encourage people to deal with some of those organic materials through backyard composting, it’s going to take some of the strain off [city garbage collectors].”

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