This letter is in response to a recent article (Whistler wants review of private composting facility, Dec. 6), and to clarify details associated with the Sea to Sky Soils Composting Facility. Sea to Sky Soils has a fully permitted, appropriately zoned site located only 13 km north of the RMOW boundaries. Our site boasts extensive buffers ideal for commercial composting. Our technology has been proven to produce a weed free, nutrient rich, “Class A” Compost, ideal for use in local food production (including organic farming, commercial greenhouses and home/community gardens). To do so, we must recycle commercial and municipal food waste (along with any other suitable commercially generated organics, such as fish waste or agricultural wastes) generated within the region.
The Whistler Composting Facility (WCF) currently co-mingles food waste collected from Whistler’s businesses and residents with biosolids/sewage sludge making the compost end product unusable by certified organic farmers and largely undesirable for use in food production. We offer the region a sustainable solution that is funded privately and through the fees we collect for processing and sales. The current Whistler Compost Facility is over capacity during busy times of the year, and the RMOW is forced to export excess organics (biosolids) 600 km south to the Roosevelt Landfill in central Washington. By diverting the food waste to another local facility, additional capacity is provided, and the costs and associated carbon footprint for processing can be reduced.
We have provided tours to the some of the many reference facilities that utilize our technology to RMOW staff and have presented on multiple occasions to council over the past two years to be sure a clear message was provided to our public sector leaders. Despite these efforts, we continue to struggle with misinformation about the size of our facility and the impacts we will have on existing WCF infrastructure. We are a small facility and our focus is the development of a soil amendment that will be used to enhance local certified organic food production. This has been shown to provide growth in many areas and positive benefits to the community.
Recently the RMOW suggested spending millions more of taxpayer dollars to expand the existing Whistler Composting Facility. This money is above and beyond the $12 million already spent on construction only a few years ago. Meanwhile, our new facility has the capacity required in place and provides the public with another option for soil products specifically as they relate to food production and farming without costing the taxpayer anything. The WCF charges a $75/tonne tipping fee for food waste processing and we will do the same to run our business without the need for additional public spending on infrastructure.
It is important to understand that composting is based on a carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio with moisture and oxygen as key components, which are required to create ideal composting parameters. It is widely frowned upon in the industry to comingle food waste and biosolids, as currently practiced at the WCF, as it restricts the use of the end product due to cross contamination. Our facility will allow for this practice to stop by separating the food waste for separate processing resulting in an end product that farmers can use and providing support to the local organic farming industry. This in turn will support the food security goals of the region and provide fresh and healthy locally-produced food to the region’s residents and restaurants.
It should also be clarified that there is no standard that exists in Canada under which an input such as compost can be certified organic. Under the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAPA) agricultural food crops, or processed products intended for human consumption and livestock feeds, can be certified as organic. Unless the regulatory system changes, non-food products (including compost), products of aquaculture, body products, textiles and other products cannot be certified as organic. Biosolids and its residual contaminants are considered a prohibited compost feedstock in Canadian Organic Agriculture.
Our project is directly in line with the Whistler 2020 sustainability goals. We thank those of you who have voiced your support for this initiative and our desire to improve sustainability along the Sea to Sky corridor through continued growth of small scale farming and locally produced fresh and healthy food.