RDN wants to know if residents want larger organics collection carts

Introducing larger organics carts to allow for curbside collection of more yard waste is on the public consultation docket as the Regional District of Nanaimo is reporting an uptick in usage since yard waste was added to its collection services.

In 2023, the RDN began accepting yard waste in organics carts. When automated carts were introduced in 2019, the collection contract included an option to have yard waste collected, but the board of directors at the time opted to skip it as it was considered cost-prohibitive.

Since yard waste collection was introduced, RDN solid waste staff are reporting a 26 per cent increase in organics cart volumes across the regional district’s pickup areas. From 2020-22 organics collection sat at an average of 4,400 tonnes per year while in 2023, the RDN collected 5,274 kg of organics.

Ben Routledge, RDN manager of solid waste, told the board at their May 14 meeting that roughly 8,000 residents drive to either the regional landfill on Cedar Road or Church Road transfer station one to 10 times per year to drop off yard waste, predominantly light trimmings that could go in organics carts.

“If we could offer a larger organics cart for the same or less than what they’re paying for tipping fees at our facilities, we could reduce their costs, we can increase the efficiency of the services we provide, but we’d also save a lot of [greenhouse gas] emissions across the region.

“We want to know the size of cart people want, how much they’re prepared to pay for it and whether or not we can deploy the program to their satisfaction,” Routledge said. “A lot of residents are looking for larger carts – how much larger is the question.”

Staff have determined rural areas have historically set out lower volumes of organics than urban areas of the RDN. Any expanded program would be optional and not require all residents to participate in it. Options will be presented to the board in early 2025.

The RDN will be collecting feedback from residents through the summer and fall at community events as well as via a survey to be posted on the Get Involved platform.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder