On August 21, 2023, a Council-authorized curbside residential organic waste collection program began for single- and multi-family households in the City of Kamloops that receive curbside cart collection. Organics are collected weekly, and garbage and recycling are now collected every other week on an alternating basis. This means on collection day, only two carts should be set out (not three)—organics and garbage OR organics and recycling. Find your zone-specific solid waste collection schedule here.
Composting helps reduce harmful pollution. Organic waste buried in a landfill generates methane—a potent greenhouse gas—whereas composting organic waste with controlled exposure to air, moisture, and heat produces carbon dioxide, a much less harmful greenhouse gas. Curbside residential organic waste collection will reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 2,000 passenger vehicles per year from local roads. It will also help residents divert waste from the landfill. Did you know? Only 22% of residential garbage is actually garbage—the rest can be recycled or composted.
Food scraps are collected indoors in a small kitchen bin or pail. When the kitchen bin is full, empty the bin into the organics curbside cart.
Any paper-based liner (e.g. newsprint, paper bags, takeout boxes, cereal/cracker boxes, parchment paper, or paper liners from home and garden centres, drug stores, or grocery stores) may be used in the kitchen bin to make it easier to empty and clean. Layering food scraps with used napkins or paper towels will help absorb odour-causing moisture and liquids.
Why aren't compostable or biodegradable plastic bags (as liners) accepted in the organics program? This is because plastics that are certified as biodegradable or compostable will only break down under specific conditions (e.g. a minimum period of time and when exposed to a certain minimum temperature). The challenge is that not all composting facilities operate under these conditions. If they don’t, the plastics won’t break down properly and can end up contaminating the finished product and can introduce microplastics and chemical additives into the soil as they break down.
Residents are encouraged to put the organics cart out every collection day, no matter the amount of material. Material may stick or freeze in your cart, preventing it from being fully emptied; layering food scraps with dry material will help prevent this, as will placing dry cardboard along the bottom and edges of the cart and wrapping food scraps in newsprint or paper-based liners. Large paper yard waste bags may also be used to line the curbside cart.
Tips for Managing Odours and Insects
When food scraps break down, they release odours that insects and wildlife are attracted to. This natural breakdown happens whether food scraps are in the garbage or organics cart. Insects and wildlife are attracted to these odours.
Here are some simple steps to help minimize odours and reduce the chances of attracting insects, rodents or wildlife:
- Consider freezing meat scraps and bones until collection day. This will greatly help prevent houseflies from laying their eggs which grow into maggots (the larval stage of housefly development).
- If freezing is not an option, consider storing meat scraps in a sealed container (e.g. an empty ice cream pail or bucket with sealing lid). On collection day, empty the contents into the organics cart and rinse/reuse, or recycle the container.
- Store your outdoor cart in a garage or shaded area, especially in periods of hot weather, and ensure all carts are inaccessible to wildlife (learn more at Kamloops.ca/BearSmart).
- Layer food scraps in the cart with dry material, such as leaves, dry grass clippings, and dry plant matter, which will help absorb smelly liquids and reduce odour.
- Sprinkle the bin and cart with baking soda, white vinegar, garden lime (odour neutralizer), or diatomaceous earth (natural absorbent). Garden lime and diatomaceous earth can be purchased at garden centres.
- Rinse the kitchen bin with soap and water after emptying.
- Additional tips to help prevent fruit flies in the kitchen include rinsing bottles and cans, washing dish cloths regularly, and keeping fruit and vegetables in the fridge. Create a fruit fly trap by putting some apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a jar and sealing the jar with cling film poked with holes.
Tips to Help Prevent Material from Sticking or Freezing in Your Cart
Depending on the season, material may stick or freeze in the organics cart, preventing it from being fully emptied.
Here are some tips to help ensure material stays loose and comes out during collection:
- Place some dry material like crumpled newspaper, dry yard waste and/or food-soiled cardboard on the bottom and sides of the cart.
- Layer food scraps in the kitchen bin with soiled napkins or paper towel to help soak up liquids.
- Wrap wet food scraps in newsprint or put them in paper-based liners before placing in the curbside cart.
- In the curbside cart, layer food scraps with pieces of cardboard or newspaper. Large paper yard waste bags (available at home and garden centres) may also be used to line the curbside cart.
- Consider pre-freezing food scraps before placing in the curbside cart.
- Try dislodging stuck or frozen material with a broom handle.
- What Can and Can't Go in the Organics Cart?
- Tips to Help Prevent Material from Sticking or Freezing in Your Cart
- How to Make Your Own Kitchen Bin Liner
Bear-Resistant Curbside Organics Cart Pilot Program
Beginning in August 2023, the City will be testing the use of bear-resistant curbside organics carts through a one-year pilot program. Approximately 300 homes in the Juniper Ridge West neighbourhood are included in the selected route. This area was chosen based on bear hazard assessment ratings. The pilot program will be focused on understanding how effective bear-resistant carts are, how willing and able residents are to properly use them, and the impact on patterns of human-bear conflict. At the end of the one-year pilot program, staff will make recommendations to Council for possible options and criteria to expand a bear-resistant organics cart program more broadly in the community. Read more here.
Why did the City implement curbside residential organic waste collection? How does this benefit the City and residents?
In December 2020, Council authorized staff to move ahead with developing a residential organic waste collection program. This included a period of public consultation in 2020 and a year-long pilot program from fall 2021 to fall 2022 before implementing community-wide collection in 2023.
The implementation of curbside organics collection is driven by climate action and waste reduction goals. The Community Climate Action Plan (Big Move 5) includes goals to capture all kitchen and yard waste for beneficial end use and to keep methane-generating materials out of the landfill (methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is produced when organic material like food, yard, and paper waste break down in a landfill environment).
An organics program is estimated to reduce the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 9,500 tonnes per year—the equivalent to removing about 2,000 passenger vehicles from local roads for one year!
KAMPLAN, the City’s Official Community Plan, and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s Solid Waste Management Plan aim to reduce waste per capita to the landfill to 560 kg/person annually by 2023 and by 500 kg/person by 2028 (for reference, in 2022, the disposal rate for Kamloops was 690 kg/person annually). KAMPLAN also emphasizes the adoption of a zero-waste philosophy and leadership in recycling, composting, and waste management.
Garbage audits from 2021 showed that up to 42% of residential garbage is organic material that can be composted. A curbside organics program will help residents reduce their household garbage waste and keep compostable (i.e. methane-generating) material out of the landfill, which in turn helps to reduce overall community greenhouse gas emissions.
Where does the material collected from curbside organics go?
Unfortunately, at this time there is not a local compost processing facility that is permitted to compost food scraps. Currently, the organic material collected goes to a composting facility in Princeton, which is where it has been going since the start of the pilot program.
In calculating the estimated greenhouse gas emissions related to transporting the organics to Princeton, as well as the net reduction in emissions by composting organics and keeping that material out of the landfill, there is still a significant net reduction in emissions despite the additional transportation emissions.
Curbside residential organic waste collection is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 9,500 tonnes per year—the equivalent to removing about 2,000 passenger vehicles per year from local roads.
The transport and processing of the material is managed by Arrow, and the material is composted at the Ingerbelle Composting Facility, where Class A compost is produced.
In the future, the hope is to someday have the organic material transferred to a facility in the Kamloops vicinity. In the meantime, it was important for the City to get started on a curbside organics program with residents in order to establish program operations.
How much does curbside organics collection cost?
The organics program will cost residents receiving curbside residential solid waste collection one dollar per month ($12 per year), billed quarterly on their utility bills (the first utility charge will not appear until the first quarter of 2024). The initial capital start-up costs will be covered by current reserves and grant funding.
The City was awarded three grants valued at over $2 million to support the organic waste program—two Green Municipal Fund grants for a feasibility study (public consultation phase) and a pilot program, as well as a $1.78 million grant from the Province’s Clean BC Organic Infrastructure and Collection Program to support the community rollout.