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I recently got to tour this state-of-the-art facility with Brian Barnett, the municipality's general manager of environmental services and ask him a few questions along the way.
Pique: What was the total investment on the facility and what are the staffing levels required to operate the facility?
Brian Barnett: The capital costs for Whistler Composting was $13.7 million. We contract the operational labour to Carney's, who employ three full-time staff to run the facility.
Pique: How much volume is the facility handling, and has that increased since opening last December?
Brian: We are currently handling around 50 tonnes a day (which includes organic waste and wood waste) five days a week. During the first couple of months we had start-up conditions allowing us to de-bug the tunnels and get everything running, and in the past couple of months production has increased steadily and has actually surpassed what we had projected.
Pique: Given the cost saving benefits of waste collection fees for commercial operations, are the majority of businesses such as hotels and restaurants now on board with the program?
Brian: We have had a great uptake in the commercial sector with almost everyone eager to get on board and we have worked closely with those who may have been hesitant with the change.
Pique: Has there been a noticeable reduction in the tonnage of Whistlers waste that is shipped to the landfill facility in Washington State?
Brian: Definitely. The 50 tonnes a day, which is largely comprised of food waste, is no longer being transferred to that facility, which will save Whistler residents hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a year, while reducing our environmental impact at the same time.
Pique : Is the landfill in Washington State part of Whistler's long-term solution to garbage disposal requirements?
Brian: No, we have entered into a five year contract at that facility which can be extended if required but preferably we are looking into a closer landfill site and are hoping to adopt the Greater Vancouver solid waste system, who are currently sourcing a long-term disposal option as their current Cache Creek landfill is imminently closing. Once they find an available option to provide long term disposal I suspect that will allow us to get on board with them.