A proposal has been made to the Town of Hay River to support the introduction of a program into the community that would reduce landfill waste and support composting.
The FoodCycler is an indoor residential food composter. It can turn waste food into additives for soil, meaning less waste going to the municipal landfill.
The proposal is being made by the Hay River Seniors’ Society, which presented the idea to council at its Aug. 25 online meeting.
“This FoodCycler program, if we can bring it into town, takes an enormous amount of organic material out of the dump,” said Sandra Lester, vice-chair of the society. “It wouldn’t be the be all and end all, but it would certainly take a large portion.”
Lester heard about the FoodCycler from her daughter Ginger Lester, who works for the City of Nelson, B.C., which has run a successful pilot project for FoodCycler.
Ginger Lester joined her mother during the presentation, along with Alex Hayman, a representative of the FoodCycler manufacturer.
She described Nelson’s pilot project, which involved a rebate from the city to lower the cost of the product.
“Overall, the program was very successful,” said Ginger Lester. “In a three-month period, 151 households diverted 15 tonnes of food waste from the landfill.”
The FoodCycler is easy to use, she added. “It’s simple and it worked.”
Hayman said FoodCycler is an alternative to outdoor composting.
“The way it works is you essentially put your food waste into the machine, you press the button and you have a chopping blade and also a heating device that dehydrates and grinds up your food waste, leaving you with a soil amendment that’s about 10 per cent of the original weight and volume of what you put into that machine,” he explained on Zoom from Ottawa.
Hayman noted that half of residential waste is made up of food scraps.
“So by using something like this, you might be able to significantly reduce the amount of food waste going to the landfill,” he said.
Sandra Lester noted the Hay River Seniors’ Society is willing to operate a project to promote the FoodCycler in Hay River.
“We will look after the distribution, we will look after recordkeeping and stuff for the town,” she told council. “So there will be no additional expense to the town, other than if you intend on subsidizing the units to get enough units into the community to make a difference.”
Both Ginger Lester and Hayman suggested Hay River consider a pilot project of its own.
However, speaking to The Hub following the presentation to council, Sandra Lester said the FoodCycler is a proven product and a pilot project would not be needed in Hay River.
Instead, she hopes that the town can find funding for some kind of subsidy to help people buy the product.
She noted the machines can currently be bought on Amazon for about $500, but the manufacturer is offering them to the seniors’ society for $250 a unit, plus freight and taxes.
The Town of Hay River made no commitment on supporting the idea.
The Hay River Seniors’ Society currently has a FoodCycler in its clubroom, and Sandra Lester describes it as an easy machine to run. She would like to see 200 FoodCyclers in Hay River.