More than 1,200 tonnes of residential organic material has been collected in Port Alberni since September 2021 and processed at Earth, Land and Sea.

More than 1,200 tonnes of residential organic material has been collected in Port Alberni since September 2021 and processed at Earth, Land and Sea.

Keeping organics local: Earth, Land and Sea’s composting process

Earth, Land and Sea is the local, family-run processing facility for the City of Port Alberni’s curbside organics collection program. Earth, Land and Sea is contracted by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to provide processing services for organics material collected from the residential program and self-haul material that is taken to the landfill.

They process all residential food waste, including meat, dairy, fat and bones, yard waste, and compostable fibre products, such as paper towels and tissues.

Earth, Land and Sea expanded their business to include composting the municipal organics collection as it seemed like a natural fit for their company. They had the space to expand, and it aligned with the company’s environmental vision. Composting benefits the entire community by reducing the amount of methane gas generated at the landfill, extending the lifespan of the landfill, and providing a sustainable way to increase diversion options.

Pest control policies are standard practice for Earth, Land and Sea and are also a requirement of the partnership agreement with the ACRD. To date there have been minimal odour or other pests at their facility.

More than 1,200 tonnes of residential organic material has been collected since September 2021 and the first trial batch of compost has been tested and analysed and classified as “Grade A” compost with no pathogens present. This is great indication that the process is a success!

Steps of the composting process:

  1. All the organic waste collected through the three-stream curbside collection is taken to the landfill and tipped into the designated bin and from there is hauled to the Earth, Land and Sea processing site.
  2. Contamination (garbage and unaccepted material) is removed by hand.
  3. A recipe is created for the pile based on contents to equal three parts green (food and yard waste = nitrogen) to one part brown (leaves, mulch and or wood chips = carbon).
  4. The pile is put into rows and mechanically flipped every so often to ensure an even distribution of heat throughout the pile. A blower system under the pile helps aerate the piles, aiding in the breakdown of the organic material.
  5. The final pile goes through a mechanical screening process to ensure there are no large chunks of wood remaining and remove any final contamination (except for plastic produce stickers).

Contamination

Removing contamination from the collected material is currently the most time-consuming part of the entire composting process. For the highest quality compost, try to ensure no items that are unable to decompose enter the organics stream. The item most frequently found is compostable plastic bags. Compostable plastic bags are not regulated and do not break down in the compost method used locally. Other items routinely found in the organics which are not compostable are: plastic produce stickers left on fruit and vegetables, take-out hot beverage cups and coffee pods.

When will the finished product be available locally?

The goal is for the compost to be available for the public by spring of 2023. Earth, Land and Sea is required to make 10 per cent of the compost produced from the residential program available to the ACRD as well as the City of Port Alberni for parks and community gardens.

The remaining material will be available for purchase at the Tebo Road location where Earth, Land & Sea also continues to provide a drop-off yard waste and kitchen waste composting service for residents.

Stay in the Know with Sort’nGo!

Visit letsconnectacrd.ca/organics for more information about the Organics Collection Service and to ask questions. Questions about sorting and what day your collection is? Download the free Sort’nGo app from your mobile app store for Android and Apple phones. You can also check out the Facebook Page “Sort’nGo– ACRD Recycling & Organics” at facebook.com/ACRD.recycles which has weekly tips and updates for the valley. If you’re with a community group or local business, you can contact the ACRD to arrange for an educational presentation for how to best utilize this service.

Environment