EDITORIAL: Thumbs up for Rethink

While it will take getting used to, the benefits of this type of garbage collection system far outweigh the fuss factor.

The City of Surrey’s new Rethink Waste Collection Program kicks in on Monday, Oct. 1, and some folks are in a flap over the changes to their garbage pick-up.

While there are legitimate logistical concerns – such as where to situate three new large bins on small lots, or the elderly and disabled having difficulty moving the cans to the street – for most people, getting with the program requires just a little extra effort.

Starting next week, Surrey will pick up food waste and other organic material separately from remaining household waste.

Organics include food scraps and yard waste, such as grass clippings, leaves, plants and small trimmings. All of this gets pitched into the green bin, which will be picked up every week.

The blue bin is for recyclables, such as drink bottles and egg cartons, and the black bin is for all other garbage – with the exception of pet waste. The blue and black bins will be picked up every second week.

Surrey isn’t alone in having to adjust to changes in garbage pick-up. The plan is part of Metro Vancouver’s regional waste strategy, which aims to raise its recycling rate to 70 per cent by 2015. So far, 16 of the 22 cities in Metro Vancouver have already started to collect organics separately.

While it will take getting used to, the benefits of this type of collection system far outweigh the fuss factor.

First off is the cost. About 65 per cent of Surrey’s entire waste load is organic. The region pays $107 a metric ton to dispose of it, as opposed to less than $50 a ton charged by organics processing facilities. What’s more, Surrey’s waste is trucked to a landfill in Cache Creek, so less garbage means savings in fuel costs.

As for the environmental advantages, when disposed of in a landfill, organics emit methane gas – which is more than 20 times worse than carbon emissions on global warming. Processing them instead is good for the planet.

As an added bonus, the federal government has announced it is committing $17 million to the construction of a biofuel facility in Port Kells. The fuel manufactured there will be used to gas up the trucks used for curbside waste pick-up, and  Surrey will have North America’s first fully integrated organic waste management process.

Change is not always easy, but overall, we think Rethink is a good deal.

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