Whistler construction needed for Squamish composting plant 

Whistler’s busy construction industry will have a role to play in the new centralized composting facility slated for Squamish in the coming year.

The composting technology at that plant will need a steady supply of wood and yard waste in order to function and create the organic fertilizer.

Any clean wood waste and debris from land clearing as well as any organic construction waste can be thrown into the compost mix.

"(The construction waste) would become an amendment to mix with the organic waste and the builders in Whistler are very keen to see that happen to their wood waste from construction," said Pat Taylor, administration manager at Carney’s Waste Systems.

The municipality has partnered with Carney’s to provide an area next to the Whistler landfill where any demolition debris can be sorted and stored.

Though there will be a tipping fee for the waste, it will be approximately 50 per cent less than the current landfill tipping fees.

Whistler’s construction waste is just one component of the composting facility, which is planned to go next to the Carney’s waste facility in the Squamish Business Park.

A rezoning application for the land is currently in the works with Squamish council. Taylor said they hoped to have the land rezoned by September.

"We’re encouraged that we should be able to get in by the winter," she said, adding that they could be operational by early next year.

In the meantime, Carney’s will continue to operate the pilot program currently underway with a dozen restaurants and one hotel in Whistler.

Through this composting program, where Carney’s picks up the organic waste and takes it to a Vancouver facility, the businesses have been able to reduce their garbage by half.

Even with a centralized composting facility however, there will be no residential pick up of organic waste.

"What we would be looking at is putting some kind of organic collection into the compactor sites in Whistler in the future," said Taylor, adding the sites could be in place as soon as the spring.

"The biggest challenge with that is of course bear proofing it.

"We would be the first to do this right in an area where there are bears."

The multi-million dollar composting facility planned for Squamish will use an existing system called the Wright In-Vessel Composting System.

Taylor said there have been some concerns from nearby neighbours who are worried about the smell from organic waste. She said they have been assured that the Wright system is a state of the art facility, which does not leak and the odours are totally contained and managed within the facility.

With a centralized composting plant in the SLRD, the hope is to drastically reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill.

"For the corridor what we’re sort of hoping is that we can reduce the garbage...easily another 20 per cent of what there is now and more with education and time," said Taylor.

The corridor took up the waste reduction challenge more than a decade ago when the provincial government mandated regional district to create Solid Waste Management Plans in response to a potential landfill crisis.

Since then the SLRD has reduced its garbage by 50 per cent through reducing, reusing and recycling.

It is hoped through education and awareness, composting will be as natural as putting paper and cans in blue boxes.

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