Composting enforcement being considered for North Okanagan businesses

North Okanagan considers banning businesses from throwing out organic waste
Watch: North Okanagan considers banning businesses from throwing out organic waste.

Should north Okanagan businesses be forced to compost?

That’s an idea the Regional District of North Okanagan is considering as it looks at instituting a ban that would prevent businesses and institutions from throwing out organic waste at the landfill.

The regional district argues certain types of composting can actually cut down on the amount of greenhouse gases organic waste produces, and sending organics to the compost pile instead of the trash will increase the lifespan of local landfills.

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Right now, the regional district is researching the details but says it won’t be providing composting.

Instead businesses will need to hire their own contractors to provide composting service.

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An association representing downtown Vernon businesses said companies want to be sustainable but they need details on the proposal.

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“I think there is a lot more research and data that has to be done to understand what the impacts of that will be, what the cost to business would be and how we can best implement [it] so we can do this in a sustainable manner,” the Downtown Vernon Association’s executive director Susan Lehman said.

Some businesses operating on tight margins are concerned about the potential for added cost.

However, the regional district believes the extra cost will be minimal.

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“They already have to haul the material either to the landfill or to another business so the hauling charges wouldn’t be very different,” Michael Fox, the regional district’s general manager of community services, said.

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Fox said the extra cost businesses would incur is any expense associated with creating an internal process to separate the organic waste from other trash.

Critics of the proposal may wonder if the extra regulation could deter businesses from setting up in the North Okanagan.

However, the regional district said the change would actually bring the North Okanagan in line with what some other municipalities are already doing.

“I think the North Okanagan is behind and I think the public would support it,” said Fox.

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“So I don’t know how much of a kick back from the public there would be and I think businesses want the public’s support.”

More details on whether a landfill organics ban will go ahead and what exactly it could entail are expected by the end of June.

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The regional district is not planning to ban household organic waste from local landfills, at this point.

One Vernon business that already composts, the Fig Bistro, said contracting an outside company to pick up their organic waste cost approximately $80 per month and has reduced their garbage by roughly 75 per cent.