Blue bags are being phased out of the waste stream in Chilliwack in 2018. (Progress photo)

Tonnes less garbage going to the landfill in Chilliwack

Chilliwack is adapting nicely to the changes rolled out with green carts

Some may be wondering how it’s been going since big changes were made to Chilliwack’s curbside collection program last spring.

Most curbside customers are getting it right, according to a presentation to council last week by environmental services manager Tara Friesen.

In terms of their main aim of reducing garbage, residents did “extremely well” with a significant decrease in the amount of garbage going to the landfill, Friesen said.

READ MORE: Green carts rolled out

Waste audits have provided some numbers to help staff gauge the level of success.

Between May and December 2017, 3,825 tonnes of garbage were picked up curbside, compared to 6,820 tonnes during the same six-month period the year before.

That’s a whopping 44 per cent reduction in garbage headed to the landfill.

Removing tonnes of organic material like food and bones, to food-soiled paper and more from the waste stream, has made an obvious difference.

“Residents did an exceptional job of keeping contamination (non-compostable materials) out of their green carts,” according to Friesen’s report.

Right from the get-go, the level of contamination, meaning items like bits of plastic, foil, or even compostable plastic bags mixed in with compostables in the green bin, was very low.

Chilliwack’s compostable waste in the first six months totalled 5,175 tonnes.

Reader Bill Fitzpatrick emailed The Progress, wondering how much co-operation the city was getting with the new changes.

“Are we creating significant compost to replace the soil that goes out of the valley?” he asked in his email. “In our house the amount of garbage has been reduced to a trickle.”

That’s likely the case in most homes.

READ MORE: Glass/plastic bags to depots

Since glass and plastic bags were removed from the pickup, and shifted to depot drop-off, where foam packaging is also accepted, a total of 3,055 tonnes of recycling were picked up curbside between March and December 2017, compared to 3,250 tonnes between March and December 2016. That’s 195 tonnes or a six per cent decrease.

This was offset with numbers at the Bailey Landfill and Emterra Recycling Depots, where 1,045 tonnes of recycling were dropped off between March and December 2017, compared to 825 tonnes dropped off between March and December 2016 (220-tonne increase).

“There was a concern that we might find large amounts of glass and plastic bags in the garbage because of that shift out of our curbside recycling but we found those items only made up 1.5 per cent of the garbage contents per commodity,” Friesen said.

That means that there is still some education and outreach left for city staff to do in order to clear up any confusion about which materials are recyclable curbside.

“Unfortunately we did find larger quantities of hazardous waste items in the garbage, and this included things like batteries, spray paint and pesticides,” Friesen said.

There’s an app for that. The downloadable app, City of Chilliwack Curbside Collection, has been very popular with more than 6,500 downloads. It notifies people when their pickup day is coming. If in doubt about an item, hit the ‘what goes where’ button to find out if it’s recyclable or not.


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New green carts and kitchen catchers were rolled out last spring. (Progress file)

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