The City of Burnaby will not be processing its own green waste after finding it would be too costly for the city, according to Burnaby's acting director of engineering, Barry Davis.
"The biggest issue are economies of scale and location," he said.
Finding space in Burnaby for a composting facility is difficult because of the zoning requirements for the industrial land available, he explained.
"Within the city, the only available city land has a zoning requirement to put it in a building, whereas other places in the Lower Mainland can compost outdoors," Davis said. "So you put that all together, it makes it fairly expensive from a capital cost perspective for the city to get into it."
The amount of green waste the city produces is also a factor, as a commercial composting company would be able to offer better rates as they process higher volumes, he explained.
"The second thing is economies of scale - the more you can put through, the lower your per tonne processing cost would be," Davis said, adding, "the current contract is still the best way to go."
The amount of green waste collected by the city has increased since the program was introduced in 1997, he said, and the addition of food scrap collection in the past two years has added to it.
In 2010, the city included food scrap pick-up for single-family households and began picking up food scraps from some multi-family and civic buildings last year as well.
The city currently collects approximately 20,000 tonnes of organic waste per year, according to an engineering staff report, and that is expected to increase to 32,000 tonnes per year in the next 20 years. It would cost the city more than $4.20 million per year to set up its own composting facility, according to the report.
The City of Burnaby previously had a green waste-processing contract with Fraser Richmond Soil and Fibre Ltd. but chose not to renew the contract in August.
In April, the city agreed to pay $1.57 million more to the company because Burnaby was exceeding the contracted limits on compostable materials, bringing the cost of the city's contract to $5.74 million for the five-year period between September 2007 and August 2012.
In October, the city signed a contract with Enviro-Smart Organics Ltd. instead. The cost of the two-year contract is $2.24 million, according to a report from the city's director of finance, Denise Jorgenson.
The new contract costs the city $1.12 million per year, rather than the approximately $1.15 million per year with the previous contract.
Last spring, the city contracted AECOM, a company that provides technical and management support services in the environmental market, to assess the feasibility of running its own processing facility.
City staff concluded it was not only too costly to do so, it just wasn't a good fit for the city, according to Coun. Dan Johnston, chair of the city's finance and civic development committee.
"We want a location that's not going to impede the neighbours," he said.
The contract with Enviro-Smart Organics is a better solution, he added.
"We were able to save some significant money for the taxpayer," he said. "Competition drives the price down a bit."
Manny Mahi, vice-president of operations for Enviro-Smart Organics Ltd. and Westcoast Instant Lawns Ltd., said the company is on the smaller side and is able to keep costs down because of that.
The company has 22 employees, including drivers and employees with the turf and composting sides of the business, he said.
The company accepts green waste from Delta, as well, he added.
"We accept the curbside green waste, which nowadays is mixed with food waste, as well," he said. "It is brought to our facility out in Delta . and processed here in Delta, and goes through a cycle where it gets turned into compost."
The company sells soil and compost products, and also uses the compost in the production of its turf, Mahi said.
"We turn it into top soil which meets B.C. landscape specifications for planting mix, turf mix, and composted mulch," he said. "We take about 50 per cent of the compost we produce and put it back onto the property and sell a premium grade of sod."
It makes the business a one-stop shop, he said, where landscapers and other customers can drop off yard waste and compost and can also buy soil and turf, he explained.
"We sell it to just about everyone, from landscapers to homeowners, to a lot of the commercials sites as well, and of course, to municipalities," Mahi added.