The City of Revelstoke’s garbage truck is limping towards the end of its working life and needs to be replaced.
But that decision isn’t as easy as going shopping for a new truck, because the city’s at a crossroads, facing several decisions with long-term financial implications.
Should we introduce a compostable organics collection system? Should we continue on with manual garbage collection? Or should we buy an automated or semi-automated truck, both of which use a hydraulic claw to grab and lift special cans? And if we decide on the special cans, should we add bear-proof clips at significant extra cost?
A draft waste management report introduced last week explored the options, seeking to clarify all the existing and planned waste management initiatives, then put a price tag on each option.
It was prepared by city Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Penny Page-Brittin.
The report found that, over the long term, the existing manual collection system is the most expensive. This is because the city will be required to increase garbage collection staff by a half-time position. This is a new work-safety requirement imposed on the city due to injury rates for garbage collectors.
The cheapest option is an automated system, without the bear clips. The next cheapest is an automated system using bear clips for half of the town, and half without. Going to full bear clips adds more expense, but is still cheaper than manual collection.
The price range, over an 11-year ‘net-present-value’ sample period, ranges between $4.2 million for manual collection and about $3.7 million for the clip-less garbage cans.
The report said calculating the cost of contracting out garbage collection was “difficult to determine” and didn’t include that option in the scenarios.
As part of the study, staff rooted through garbage to analyze what people are throwing away.
“They went in there and dug through the garbage. It was a hot day too!” Page-Brittin said. “What we see is people are still putting recyclable products into their garbage. We also see that a large portion of the garbage that is being landfilled is compostable organics – at 36.8 per cent.”
It found that paper, plastic and compostable organics formed 73.5 per cent of the waste in our garbage.
The current, long-term waste management plan, which is done in partnership with the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District, is considering collecting organic waste separately, so it can be composted. The regional district has just completed a feasibility study for the collection and processing of organic household waste. Revelstoke throws out an estimated 323 to 437 tonnes of organic waste each year. The CSRD is considering building an organic waste composting facility in Revelstoke. Depending on the kind of facility – indoor or outdoor – the estimated cost ranges between $864,385 and $3,457,539.
The waste management report doesn’t make a recommendation on organic waste collection, but says there are many options. Curbside collection has the highest pickup rates, but drop-off depots are also an option. The decision on how to deal with organic waste does effect the type of truck to be selected.
In discussion, the committee members wondered about the viability of a fully-automatic garbage system in Revelstoke during snowy winters. The system requires the cans to be precisely placed on a level surface.
The report will now proceed to Revelstoke City Council for consideration. At this point, the path forward seems open-ended.
Some good news from the report: curbside garbage collection volumes have steadily decreased since 2009, from 1282 tonnes to 1102 tonnes in 2013.
Total recycling volumes have increased since the curbside program was introduced. About 275 tonnes of recycling was collected at the depot in 2010. In 2013, combined depot and curbside recycling was about 525 tonnes – just about doubled.
Here is the draft City of Revelstoke waste management report discussed at the April 10, 2014 Development Services committee meeting: