The Lecour family had gotten used to having a garburator in their kitchen sink for disposing of food scraps and other organic waste.
After moving into a new home in Colwood a couple of years ago, however – this one without the device – their garbage production went way up. With a new ban placed on kitchen scraps and organic material at the Hartland Landfill coming into effect as of Jan. 1 of this year, they needed to re-adjust, just as everyone else was being forced to.
Adrienne Lecour signed up Jan. 2 for curb-side pick-up of her family’s organics and is happy to have done so.
“It turned out to be a really simple transition,” she says. “I just keep my counter bin beside the sink and scrape plates into it before they go into the dishwasher, the same way I used to when we had a garburator.”
She has seen a noticeable, even drastic, decrease in the amount of garbage the family produces, anywhere from a half-bag to a full bag per week, “depending on whether we clean out the fridge or not,” she says, laughing.
Lecour adds that the convenience of having the curbside pick-up be the same day of the week as regular garbage collection, and the minimal cost associated with the service, makes it easier for people to adapt, as well.
“I haven’t heard anything negative from anyone,” she says of the adjustment to separating organics out of the regular garbage. “I think people, in general, are realizing that this is long overdue and they’ll put up with the small inconvenience of it, because it’s what needs to happen.”
Jolene Woodcock of Langford agrees with that sentiment. She grew up in a household that composted in their yard and she has carried that tradition with her into adulthood. Now that there is a curbside pickup option available, however, she’s taking full advantage of that service instead of continuing the backyard practice.
She didn’t compost for gardening purposes, and because keeping their family’s food waste out of the landfill is important to her, she’s happier to have a different option.
Because they already did some level of separation of their garbage – meat and fats, for example, don’t go into backyard compost bins without a processing system that can break them down properly – putting all their kitchen scraps in one bin to take to the curb alongside their regular garbage has been a fairly easy transition.
Curbside pickup has also made her more conscious of her family’s own eating habits.
“I try to make use of more of the food we cook now,” she says, because she sees how much of it is going to waste when she takes it to the curb. “And even when I’m shopping, I try to make sure I’m buying just what we need and in the amounts we will use to try to cut back on the waste we produce.”
Restaurants and other food-based establishments are another story, however. Because of the amounts of food waste from these businesses, in terms of the percentages of what’s being thrown out, the diligence required and buy-in from staff is paramount to the process. It was also a much larger and more significant transition when the ban was brought in.
Gary Strachan, operations manager of Bin 4 restaurant in Langford, says their garbage production has dropped by close to 70 per cent since the start of the year, now that the staff is on board.
“There have definitely been a few hiccups and it’s a bit of trial and error,” he says, “but there have been way fewer bumps in the road than I thought there would be when I heard it was coming.”
Strachan says it’s much easier for staff members to adjust if they haven’t been in the business very long, because they haven’t developed instinctual ways of doing things.
“I find the younger kids have no issues with it. It’s us old dogs that have trouble adjusting to doing things in a new way, but we’re getting there. I’m one of them,” he says, pointing out there are numerous times throughout the day when he catches himself putting something in the wrong bin, purely because it’s what he’s done his whole career.
While they were incorporating the new system, he showed every employee at the beginning of each shift the new process for disposing of the organics, and he stressed its importance.
Strachan found that if he explained the “why” of it, the staff were much more receptive to making the change.
Bin 4 has five 64-gallon organics bins that are emptied twice weekly, on Mondays and Thursdays. That’s over 1,000 gallons of food waste per week being diverted from the landfill from just one restaurant and Strachan believes that’s probably a typical amount for any restaurant of its size.
“I’ve been in restaurants for over 20 years, and I’d say the average amount of garbage being produced is a pretty standard 70 per cent food waste,” he says. “So this new restriction is diverting a whole lot out of the landfill that doesn’t need to be there.”