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SLRD composting plan gaining momentum



The plan to build a central composting plant in Squamish to serve the Sea to Sky Corridor has already cleared several hurdles – it has the support of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, approval in principle from Squamish council, and can count on Whistler and Pemberton councils to give the thumbs up.

The cost of building the proposed composting facility, which is estimated to be $4.5 million to handle up to 50 metric tonnes of waste each day, or approximately 18,000 tonnes each year, will come out of local government solid waste budgets. Operating costs for Carney’s Waste Systems will be covered by tipping fees and by the sale of the composted material.

The deal breaker, according to Owen Carney, the owner and operator of Carney’s Waste Systems, is the guaranteed support of all levels of government, and a guarantee of feedstock – solid, liquid and wood waste – for the facility.

"(18,000 tonnes) is how much feedstock we need, or I’m not doing it. We’ve crunched the numbers, and without these guarantees we don’t break even, and we’re not covering our own costs," said Carney, who discussed the plans for the composting system at the monthly AWARE meeting on Dec. 5.

One of the guarantees he needs is for participating municipalities and the SLRD to agree to make composting part of their bylaws, and to put an end to wood burning in the corridor. The composting technology needs a steady supply of wood and yard waste – about 70 per cent of the total feedstock – to function properly.

To gauge the feasibility of the composting facility, Carney’s conducted a pilot project at Whistler involving a few local hotels and restaurants. Within a short period of time, they were collecting 50 tonnes of compostable waste a month, half of which was contributed by the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

"We got 50 tonnes of kitchen waste without even trying," said Carney. "It should be easy to get the kind of feedstock we need for this thing."

When mixed with the proper quantities of wood and yard waste, that 50 tonnes becomes almost 150 tonnes a month, or a tenth of the materials required.

That waste is being shipped to a composting facility in the Lower Mainland, but could be diverted to the proposed composting facility in Squamish, which would require about five acres and will be located next to the recycling centre.

If Carney’s gets the kind of guarantees it needs to move forward, they will submit an application to the provincial government. If all of the government agencies involved give their approval, the facility could be built and collecting waste by fall of 2003.

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