Community Composting System in the Works
Hello Thetis Islanders,
Last week, a small group representing ThINC, TIRRA, the Islands Trust, and Jollity Farm gathered to discuss the next steps for a community composting system here on Thetis Island.
During summer 2021, ThINC, in partnership with TIRRA, developed a report - The ROOT Report: Re-earthing Organics on Thetis, which examined the state of composting on Thetis, as well as the feasibility to start a community composting facility. The composting survey we disseminated demonstrated that community members were keen on seeing a community composting system - especially one that could take dairy and meat products. However, various regulations present obstacles and/or barriers to hosting a community composting facility. In summary, food waste collected from more than one source (e.g. two or more residences, commercial entities, etc) triggers Provincial, Regional, and Local regulations. On Thetis, a community composting system can take place only on land zoned S-2 (public utility), in which we have in short supply. Furthermore, any system must adhere to Provincial regulations: Organic Matter Recycling Regulation (OMRR), as well as Regional (CVRD) regulations - both which come at a cost.
That said, composting locally brings many important benefits. It reduces garbage hauling costs by diverting organics from the landfill (which currently comprise ~⅓ of all landfill waste). It decreases the need to import compost for local gardeners and farmers. Lastly, composting organic waste is exponentially better for the environment than letting it rot in landfills. In landfills, organic materials produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and leachate, a toxin hazardous to water systems. With this in mind, the ThINC-TIRRA-Islands Trust-Jollity Farm Partnership is committed to establishing a system here.
Based on findings from the ROOT Report, on October 21st, the Partnership explored Thetis Island’s options. Due to zoning restrictions, our intent is to start small at the existing waste/recycling Centre (zoned S-2) and expand the system as needed, working towards greater sustainability. These efforts will help achieve our goal of zero waste as laid out in Thetis Island’s Official Community Plan (TH-Bylaw No. 88 2011, consolidated 2017, pg. 26). Our first line of action is applying for OMRR and then getting the appropriate system financed and set up. The system will be financed based on projected user fees and grants or further research will be required.
To keep costs at a minimum, we will be looking into in-vessel composting units that can compost all sorts of food waste, as well as meat and dairy, but that are also rodent-proof! Such units are not ‘cheap’, but are considerably more economical than larger scale structures, and can be moved with ease if needed. Fingers and toes crossed, this system should be up and running by next summer.
For anyone interested in learning more about this project, or who may be keen to get involved, please get in touch with: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, a big thanks to all who completed the community composting survey this summer. Your feedback was very valuable and appreciated, and has helped guide the direction of this project.