The City of Kamloops has planned a seasonal shift to bi-weekly organics curbside collection, a decision prompted by pilot program data findings and expected to reduce costs and create efficiencies, according to a city manager.
However, the shift in collection schedule over the holidays means some residents are faced with longer wait times for some types of waste to be collected. In response to community feedback, council will be asked to decide Tuesday whether to continue with seasonal bi-weekly organics collection, or to revise the schedule to incorporate year-round, weekly pickup.
The city’s new organics curbside collection program rolled out city-wide in August after several years of research, surveys and a pilot program which included more than 2,500 homes across five collection routes.
For most of the year, organics are collected weekly, while garbage and recycling are collected biweekly. However, from Dec. 1 until the end of February, the city planned to shift the schedule, collecting organics biweekly as well.
Glen Farrow, City of Kamloops streets and environmental services manager, said the decision to have a seasonal shift for organics pickup was backed up by pilot program findings showing organics bins are less full in the winter months.
“We didn't see the set-out at the curb nearly as high, and the carts that we were tipping were less than half full," he said.
"So we thought making the shift, making this movement allowed us to run fewer trucks, reduce our costs, save fuel, and really focus on the other parts of the operation such as recycling inspections and audits and change-outs for the program."
He noted in July, each pilot household averaged about 10.25 kilograms of organics, while in December, these households dropped to about 3.37 kilograms. This is primarily attributed to people using organics collection to dispose of yard waste, but Farrow noted people’s diets change seasonally as well, with some fruits and vegetables not as readily available in the winter months.
Farrow also noted the city heard “loud and clear” from a community-wide survey that residents wanted costs for the program kept low.
"Anytime you can eliminate five trucks off the road that aren't necessarily being utilized to their full capacity, we take advantage of that,” he said.
Farrow said the model also creates other efficiencies during a time of the year that sees a lot of specialized equipment used on the roads and going in and out of the mechanic shop.
The shift in schedule over the holidays means some residents will need to wait a longer period of time for their waste to be collected — upwards of 19 days, in some cases, rather than the typical 14.
A report prepared for Tuesday's council meeting indicates some residents have voiced concerns with this change.
As such, council will be asked to consider continuing ahead with bi-weekly organics pickup as planned, having staff track the impact and returning with recommendations for next year.
Alternatively, council could decide to immediately revise the collection calendar to collect organics weekly. This option involves staff returning with a recommended rate increase for waste collection in 2025.
If bi-weekly collection continues, Farrow said residents have ways to ensure they don't end up with excess waste. Paper and cardboard materials can be placed in both organics and recycling carts, and these products can also be repurposed as bin liners to make sure organics material isn’t sticking to the sides of the collection container.
He said residents should make sure they are breaking down cardboard boxes and other recycling items to save space in the bin, and noted depots in town will also accept recyclables if people are making the trip anyhow.
“Not a separate or unique trip that we’re desiring people to make, but the same time you’re taking back your glass or your refundables, your styrofoam, you can also take back some of that bulkier cardboard and plastic containers to Recycle BC depots," he said.
Farrow noted residents can always check the city’s Waste Wise app for information on collection schedules or to help them identify which items should be placed in which collection bins.