It can depend on a number of factors, but the Kitimat landfill may have just 40 years left before the landfill is land-full.
That’s an estimate provided by the Director of Engineering Tim Gleig based on a landfill survey recently received by the town — which is so new in the office he hasn’t read to the end of it yet — but that estimated life span may give pause to think for city council.
Councillors, at a June 22 Committee of the Whole meeting, reviewed recycling options, with an eye at landfill diversion tactics, from expert in recycling projects in B.C. Maura Walker.
Walker has worked extensively in the province on recycling, including within our or Kitimat-Stikine Regional District.
She points to studies showing that in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, per person, people toss about 750 kilograms worth of trash. Only about 10 per cent of that is diverted from landfills.
Provincially, she said, the average is 570 kg a person.
Aside from lengthening the lifespan of a community’s landfill, diverting products has a number of benefits, including job creation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, she said.
Province-wide she says there are efforts in the works to drop the per-capita trash rate to just 350 kg a person by 2020.
She said the pressures that other jurisdictions have had for landfills hasn’t quite reached Northern B.C. yet but she said it will happen. Meanwhile the cost of creating a landfill is expected to increase while new regulatory requirements of landfill closure will also add to cost pressures.
For illustrative purposes she pointed to Nanaimo which has a 70 per cent landfill diversion rate. Better diversion can be had by developing curbside recycling, or putting landfill restrictions on easily diverted material.
Commercial cardboard in Kitimat is already banned at the landfill.
There is a will from council to develop recycling initiatives. Mario Feldhoff said it makes him sick to see everything that goes in to the Kitimat landfill.
“There are things we can do, we can learn from other communities,” he said.
He called for council to have a workshop in the near future to discuss what to do with recycling in the community. Germuth agreed, saying it should include all the local stakeholders in the issue.
The estimate of Kitimat’s landfill’s lifespan of 40 years includes an expansion of the property to the east, which would occur once the phase 3 capacity is reached in 2034, based on a “medium high growth rate” of 43 per cent from 2011 to 2031, and no change in the diversion rate, said Gleig.
So basically if the town manages to develop recycling programs to divert waste from the landfill, we’ll see a longer lifespan for our dump than just 40 years.