Net Zero Waste Abbotsford in by Rochelle Baker, Abbotsford Times, Published: Thursday, January 03, 2013

The City of Abbotsford has made a resolution to go green in 2013 and it starts this week.

As of Wednesday, compostable waste, including kitchen scraps and yard waste, will be picked up every week, along with blue bags of recyclables.

Regular garbage will be collected every two weeks, with a limit of three 80L containers per household.

There is no limit to the amount of compostable waste containers and recycling bags placed out each week for collection.

The city has provided all households with a lidded kitchen pail for collection of all food waste, which includes anything animal or vegetable.

Abbotsford set up the citywide composting program to eliminate food and yard waste and other organic matter from the garbage stream.

The program's goals are to reduce greenhouse gases and emissions associated with landfills and reduce tipping fee costs for the city, and ultimately, the taxpayer.

Abbotsford's composting program was also spurred by Metro Vancouver's decision to eliminate organics from the garbage stream by 2015.

Abbotsford is a partner in the Metro Vancouver waste disposal system, so the new rules will also apply to the Matsqui Transfer Station.

Abbotsford has been running a limited food waste collection pilot program since 2009 in anticipation of taking the initiative city-wide.

Resident Lorrie Lamb said she, her husband Jeremy Ellis and their four kids were part of the pilot program that involved more than 400 homes. They all found it easy to adapt to the change in routine despite their sizable family.

"It didn't take long. We got used to it pretty quick," Lamb said.

The family has a regular size garden and composted some material previously but their small composter couldn't absorb all the organic waste the family produced.

"We ended up throwing out a lot of stuff that shouldn't be going into the garbage," said Lamb, who estimated her garbage had been reduced by more than half.

City audits of the pilot project found that, between removing food and yard waste and recycling, 70 per cent of "garbage" was being eliminated from the waste stream.

Abbotsford collects about 12,500 tonnes of waste per year and hopes to eliminate similar percentages of organic waste and recyclables from the total garbage collected.

The city currently pays $108 per tonne of garbage in tipping fees and will have to pay $150 per tonne in 2015.

However, organic tipping fees are substantially less, and can drop to a little less than $60 a tonne for the more compostable materials the city collects.

Abbotsford has a $6 million, 10-year contract with Net Zero Waste, which has set up a composting facility at 5050 Gladwin Rd. that accepts organic waste from the private sector as well.

The facility uses a tarp-covered system to eliminate most composting odours and create high-grade soil that will be sold.

Mateo Ocejo, Net Zero director, said the city has guaranteed the company 7,000 tonnes of organic waste a year. According to city data, yard waste alone already creates 5,000 tonnes of organic matter annually, and the city expects to gain the remaining 2,000 tonnes, and more, by bringing the new food waste program online.

The city is not involved in selling or marketing the soil that will be created at the composting facility.

Residents can collect all food waste for pickup in the new program including bones and food-contaminated paper products - such as paper plates, paper towels, and pizza boxes.

No glass, diapers or plastics are accepted.

For information, or to get your free compost pail, or call 604-864-5514.

- with files from Jean Konda-Witte

© Abbotsford Times 2013