Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Nanaimo Green Bins & Automated Garabage Trucks

Good way of getting rid of garbage
or a big waste of your tax dollars??
Before spending millions and millions on automated trucks . . .
evaluate the system ---- are we just throwing more good money after bad?

Once upon a time in the depths of the Regional District of Nanaimo and within the City of Nanaimo a cutting edge idea was born. Instead of sending organic waste to the Cedar dump where it just rots and produces all sorts of obnoxious gases, why not convert all that waste into valuable garden compost.

So a composting plant was build in Duke Point industrial park and city residents were issued with a fancy green compost bin and set about sorting our garbage all in the interests of doing something green and cutting edge in Nanaimo.

In order to collect the sorted garbage the city embarked on another cutting edge idea of re-inventing garbage trucks to accommodate picking up two streams of garbage. One regular garbage headed for the dump, and one kitchen waste headed for the compost plant, all in the same truck. These trucks cost Nanaimo taxpayers plenty, and were by anyone's standard a failure from the get-go.

After a few years of just producing smelly, good for nothing material from all that kitchen waste the owners of that operation were told to clean up the odor problem which they said they couldn't afford. A group of local businessmen came to the rescue and for a few million more, said they could solve the problem. Part of rejigging the whole plan was to send a number of truckloads of material back to the dump after it had been composted.

To my knowledge this finished 'product' has zero commercial value, which tells you how successful this whole kitchen waste to compost program really is.

Failed composting program leads to automated garbage trucks

You may recall that the city sanitation department has been all hot-to-trot to bring in fully automated garbage collection for ages now. Some councillors, (at least the ones who seem to understand what is going on) had misgivings about going holus-bolus across the whole city with the new program and so passed a motion that would have seen only one third of the city switch over to the new system.

Wisely the Core Services Review pointed out that there was an economy to going fully automated across the entire city rather than doing it bit by bit. What the Core Services Review does not do, is provide any information that supports this whole program as the way to go with garbage in the city of Nanaimo.

Remember that bureaucracies must have projects to justify their very existence and possibly this whole automated garbage program is a totally unneeded program that could easily be avoided by simply scrapping the whole kitchen waste program, which arguably is a failure.

Sold pretty hard to Council and taxpayers

This whole full-on automated garbage pick up is clearly favoured by city staff, and there are many obvious reasons for that. As stated it provides a project which justifies existence. It will also mean that garbage men and women won't have to break a sweat picking up garbage any more. Rather than getting out of the truck and lifting bags into trucks they will sit in AC comfort while playing with a joy stick to manipulate the arm to pick up two large bins at the curb.

This change also has the appeal of providing yet more union jobs locked in at the city by displacing a private contractor who currently handles recyclables at the curb. I suspect more jobs will be created as we discover that the new system will not in fact provide for more 'picks' per shift as I doubt an operator can actually pick up two containers by the automated method as quickly as the old manual method.

The fact that the report prepared by staff used some questionable stats about work place injury made this whole program suspect from the beginning. Clearly, some members of council were not entirely sold on the idea either, hence the half-baked compromise of doing one third of the city.

This program is being sold as being able to reduce worker injury, but seems to ignore the possibility of taxpayer injury as they manhandle three large bins to the curb each week.

Maybe some of the 'real' media in Nanaimo with their well staffed news rooms can do some real investigative reporting into this whole issue. Who knows, they might even save taxpayers from another 'made-in-Nanaimo-money-pit'.


1 comment:

  1. The kitchen compost program was not very well vetted by the ACES committee either! The compost is the major cause of methane gas. When in the RDN landfill, the RDN had installed an expensive complex methane collection system to take the harmful gas and convert it to usable energy.
    When it went to private contractor they did not have a methane collection system and the harmful gases was released to the atmosphere ( to the best of my knowledge).
    So if the city takes it in-house, what will they do?


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