City of Nelson Leads the Way in Organics Diversion
October 25, 2022
Nelson, BC – Nelson is taking the next step in launching a city-wide pre-treated organics program to divert food waste from landfills. Following a successful small pilot project using an appliance to pre-treat food waste, which was very popular among participants, Council endorsed the pre-treatment program. The City has now secured over $700,000 in grant funding for the program. Staff conducted a thorough feasibility study incorporating data from the pilot project results and regional data to compare it to conventional wet organic curbside collection. This study found that a residential pre-treated organics program would be less expensive, divert more waste and reduce more greenhouse gas emissions.
Within BC, organics represent 40 percent of material sent to landfills, and the CleanBC Plan states that actions taken by the province will keep 95% of residential food and yard waste out of the landfill by 2030. This means local action needs to begin now, and Nelson has already been preparing for this by implementing its climate plan, Nelson Next. This plan has some of the world's most ambitious emission reduction targets. One of the plan's aspirational goals is for Nelson to have a thriving circular economy and generate the lowest waste per capita in Canada.
The City is recognized as a leader in sustainability and has a long history of being an innovator in energy and climate action, starting with Council acquiring its own municipal electric utility 125 years ago and developing a transit system with electric streetcars. More recent initiatives include bringing the Emergency Management Program back in-house, Canada's first Community Solar Garden, and the E-bike and Energy Retrofits Loan programs. Building on these successes, the City is well-positioned to roll out Canada's first technology-based approach to organic waste diversion.
Earlier this year, the City issued a request for proposals for the supply of pre-treatment devices, and Food Cycle Science Corporation (FCS) was the successful proponent. The program will be launched over the next few months and rolled out in phases. The large-scale pilot will begin with 1,600 units, and if successful, additional appliances will be rolled out to the rest of the City in 2024. Although Nelson has been leading the way, we are not alone, as there are currently over 40 communities piloting the FoodCyclers and many more interested. In partnership with FCS, Nelson will develop an implementation guide that will allow other communities to learn from our successes and challenges.
Council is excited about the circularity of the program as residents can use the nutrient-rich soil amendment product directly, and the balance of the amendment will be utilized in the RDCK's new central compost program. Council firmly believes that adopting new technology is necessary to fight climate change. With community support and adoption, the City will be able to eliminate most food waste from the waste stream as part of the City's goal of becoming a model Bear Smart community.
If you would like to learn more about the program and sign up to receive your FoodCycler earlier than the planned roll-out (early adopter), please visit nelson.ca/organics.
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The City of Nelson's Climate and Energy team met with Minister Heyman, the Minister Responsible for Environment and Climate Change Strategy in British Columbia.
In the photo, L – R. Mayor Elect Janice Morrison, Emily Mask, Mayor John Dooley, Minister Heyman, Avi Silberstein, Cecilia Jaques, Natalie Douglas and MLA for Nelson/Creston, Brittny Anderson.