Campbell Cork updates Wellington North on direction of organic waste collection

KENILWORTH – Ward 3 Wellington County councillor Campbell Cork spoke to Wellington North councillors about the county’s move to collect organic waste.

He described plans for the county to begin a Green Bin program to pick up organics – kitchen waste.

“It’s scheduled to go in place next July.”

Cork explained “It’s tied to when the next contract with Waste Management in Mount Forest comes into  effect.”

That contract extends for the next seven years.

“This service does not come cheap, but I truly believe that what we are going to save in the long run with this service will make it a worthy expenditure.”

He said the new annual cost for waste pickup will be $5 million, which is $1.5 million more than current cost.

Cork said Blue Boxes and the organic Green Bins  will be picked up weekly and the yellow bags would be picked up bi-weekly.

Cork explained “the idea is that if we are faithfully putting organics into the Green Bin, we won’t need to put out as many yellow bags.”

“The thing with the organics is that there are things we cannot put into our compost bins such as meat waste and bones.”

Cork added “… and despite our best efforts, we are not getting a big uptake on people using the compost bins – for a variety of reasons.”

He noted the addition to the collection program includes startup costs of $900,000.

“It is fair to say no one was happy with the price tag. But if you consider the impossibility of finding a new landfill site or the cost of alternatives such as shipping the waste to the United States, or incineration, it makes sense to do whatever we possibly can do to make our landfill site last as long as we can.”

He then stated that across the province the average remaining capacity of existing landfill sites is 10 to 14 years.

“In Wellington County we are ahead of the game. We have 25 years (capacity). But 25 years can go by pretty quickly.”

He recalled that in the 1980s Wellington County undertook to find a new landfill site.

“They looked long and hard and spent millions of dollars without any luck.”

Cork said that right now the county is paying for the Blue Box system. However, the province is working towards a system where producers of Blue Box materials would be paying for it.

When that fully comes into effect, Cork estimates savings of $1 million per year, “which would take a bite out of the $1.5 million we are adding on.”

He said the point of making changes now “is when the producers of Blue Box materials take over, they take over whatever system exists at that time.”

Finally Cork addressed the matter or organics and leachates.

“Since we in Wellington North are the home of the county’s one and only landfill, it is certainly in our best interest to support whatever we can to make our landfill site safer.”

Cork added “this is our backyard, so I think we want to do whatever we can to make it as good as it can possibly be.”

He expected the organic collection will divert 2,000 tonnes of food and organic waste from the Riverstown landfill site, which amount to 10% of the annual tonnage or the equivalent of two years of landfill site capacity.

“Like it or not we are the home of the only landfill site in Wellington County, so it is critically important for Wellington North’s ground and surface water that we support this initiative.”

Councillor Dan Yake asked for clarification on the waste collection timing.

Cork stated that while the yellow bags would be collected every other week, the Blue Boxes and Green Boxes would be collected every week.

“If people do get on board with this, they will have less need for the yellow bags.”

Yake then asked where the organic waste goes.

Mayor Andy Lennox said organic waste will be treated by All Treat Farms in Arthur.

While some landfill sites have their own composting facilities, Cork added “with All Treat so close, it seemed to make sense.”

Wellington North CAO Mike Givens noted that the township has an elaborate program offered related to leaf, brush pickup and yard waste.

“Our council will have to consider how this will mesh with the county program.”

Councillor Lisa Hern was pleased to see the move to weekly collection.

Councillor Steve McCabe asked how the organic program will work in winter when organic matter freezes.

Cork had not heard that concern but added it works in other areas.

“I guess we’ll have to wait and watch.”

Lennox agreed there were quite a few eyebrows raised at county council over the price.

McCabe then asked if there was any way to measure the success of organic pickup.

Cork said “it’s pretty hard to know, other than looking at the volume of what goes into the green bins.”

Lennox added the landfill does undertake waste audits.