Patrick Donaghy showing off the bio-cover over the old landfill. The rudimentary compost is made of scrap wood and biosolids from wastewater. It saves 1,000 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere each year. (Zoë Ducklow photo)

Patrick Donaghy showing off the bio-cover over the old landfill. The rudimentary compost is made of scrap wood and biosolids from wastewater. It saves 1,000 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere each year. (Zoë Ducklow photo)

7 Mile wants to upgrade, make way for kitchen compost

RDMW applied for funding to improve organic waste management

Seven Mile Landfill is hoping to beef up its composting system with funding from Clean BC’s organic infrastructure and collection program.

The landfill already handles about 5,000 tons of organic waste a year, but they don’t touch food waste – yet.

The current program mixes waste wood with solids from waste water treatment, and spreads it out over the landfill as a bio-cover. The piles get manually turned over each week to reduce methane production and keep the bacteria happy. It works fine for low-grade compost like this, but can’t handle food-waste.

The piles are uncovered so adding food waste would attract rats, birds and bears; and food waste compost releases more methane gas, a known contributor to climate change. And third, it stinks.

“I don’t get it, but some people seem to think 7 Mile has an aroma,” operations manager Patrick Donaghy laughs. And that’s without composting kitchen scraps.

His dream system is simple: they’d stuff organic waste into big, long, plastic bags called silage bags — the same used by farmers to store food for cattle in cold weather — along with an air hose to aerate the material.

Silage bag composting would control odour, contain methane, compost faster, and could handle as much food waste as the North Island can throw at it. Eventually, Donaghy envisions separating compost by quality. The basic grade would be used for bio-cover, and the garden-grade compost could be shared with the public.

The Regional District of Mount Waddington has applied for funding for the project, estimated at $500,000. Clean BC could fund up to two-thirds of that.

The upgraded system would be worth it even if the region doesn’t start composting kitchen scraps, Donaghy said, but added that there is strong support among the public for residential composting.

RELATED: Trash is the last resort for Mount Waddington’s garbage men

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