Curbside Compostables (Organics) Collection Program Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the City implementing a curbside compostables (organics) collection program?

Like most other communities in the Lower Mainland, the City is implementing the compostables program because it is the environmentally responsible thing to do and it supports our region’s waste diversion goals.

Garbage audits revealed that on average, the garbage Chilliwack residents are putting out at the curb contains over 40% compostable material (mostly food waste plus some yard waste). Rural garbage audits showed slightly lower amounts, but still over 30% compostable material.

Food and yard waste can be composted to create a beneficial product, instead of taking up valuable landfill space. Keeping compostable materials out of the landfill also reduces odours, greenhouse gases, and problems at the landfill with birds, rodents and wildlife.

What materials will be accepted under the curbside compostables collection program?

Do I need to fit all of my yard waste in my Green Cart?

No, every spring and fall (April-June, September-November) residents will also be able to put out up to 10 extra paper bags of yard waste per week (no tag-a-bag stickers required) to assist residents when there are more prunings, leaves, etc. At other times, residents can put out extra yard waste with tag-a-bag stickers on them.

Branches can also be tied in bundles of no more than 1¼ metres in length with a diameter no more than 600 millimetres. The diameter of each branch can be up to  15 cm.

Can I exchange my Green Cart for another size?

  • Green Carts are available in four sizes: 80L, 120L, 240L and 360L (different rates apply).
  • Exchange requests are now being accepted, and the exchanges will take place in July. Please call 604.793.2787 for more information.
  • The first cart size exchange is free (one free size exchange in every two-year period; additional exchanges cost $25).
  • Carts will be picked up and delivered by the City’s contractor.

What will the new curbside program cost?

The total curbside fee for garbage, recycling and compostables ranges from $18.00-$19.80/month, depending on the size of Green Cart selected. As a comparison, the former standard fee for garbage and recycling was $16.68/month.  For detailed costs, click here.

Will diapers, personal hygiene products and animal litter be accepted in curbside compostables collection program?

No, diapers, personal hygiene products and animal litter will need to be put in the garbage and do not belong in the Green Cart. Items that are not compostable or may contain composite synthetic materials will not be accepted in the compostables collection program.

I have a garburator; why should I participate in the curbside compostables collection program instead?

If you’ve been using a garburator, the new curbside compostables program will allow you to put your food waste to good use by placing them in your Green Cart for composting. Unlike composting, using garburators put unnecessary strain on the City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant . If everyone were to use a garburator instead of composting, the City would have to carry out expensive upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Plan in order to handle the extra nutrient loading. Composting at curbside will be easy; it will create good soil and save energy, water and your plumbing too!

What will happen to the compostables that are collected?

Instead of becoming waste at the landfill, food waste and food-soiled paper will now be taken to a processing facility in Abbotsford where they will be turned into compost, along with yard waste.

Is food waste in the landfill really a bad thing? Doesn’t this material break down into compost or soil anyway?

Food waste does not break down into compost or soil in the landfill because it needs oxygen to decompose properly. When this material is placed in the landfill, it gets mixed up with other garbage and is quickly compacted and buried.

Often the garbage stays in an airless environment, and very slowly breaks down. This process can take decades. As it slowly breaks down, the food waste releases significant amounts of methane, a strong greenhouse gas.

Why the move to a bi-weekly garbage collection system?

Bi-weekly (once every two weeks) garbage collection helps reduce the cost of collection, which means a reduced utility bill for residents compared to weekly garbage collection. Since food waste currently makes up over 40% of residential garbage, there will be less need for weekly residual garbage collection once food waste is separated and collected weekly. Removal of the compostable materials will also mean that the residual garbage will have reduced odours.

Bi-weekly garbage collection will also help ensure that less waste ends up in our landfill by providing an incentive for residents to participate in the weekly curbside compostables collection program to compost their food, food-soiled paper and yard waste. Many other municipalities in the Lower Mainland have also switched to bi-weekly collection, for the above reasons.

Please note that residents will be able to place up to two, 120L garbage containers (or bags) out for collection every two weeks.

Will I still be able to use my backyard composter?

Yes, if you have a backyard composter, please feel free to continue using it. The compostables collection program will complement backyard composting by accepting a wider range of food waste that may not be suitable for backyard composting such as cooked food, meat, bones, fish, baked goods, food soiled paper products including paper towels and napkins and paper food-soiled packaging such as used paper cups and paper plates and larger diameter yard trimmings.

I am concerned about odour and keeping my Green Cart and Kitchen Catcher clean, how will I manage this?

Compostable material is currently included in your garbage and the new program will just collect the compostables in a separate container, so there shouldn’t be a significant difference in odours. Here are some tips on how to keep your Green Cart  clean:

  • Place the sticker “What can I put in my Green Cart?” that was provided on the lid of your Green Cart for an easy reminder of what items are accepted.
  • Wrap food waste in newspaper, paper bags, paper towel or cereal boxes.
  • Do not use plastic bags in your Green Cart, even biodegradable or compostable plastic.
  • Freeze meat scraps in a paper bag until collection day.
  • Store your Green Cart in a cool, shaded, ventilated area and keep the lid locked.
  • Wash your Green Cart periodically with mild soap or a vinegar‑water solution. Pour soapy water onto grass or gravel. Do not pour soapy water down outside drains.
  • Set your Green Cart out for collection every week even if it is not full.

Why did my Kitchen Catcher with food waste not get collected at the curb?

Emterra cannot collect Kitchen Catchers because they are not designed to be used for collection and would get damaged. Kitchen Catchers also do not have a locking mechanism to prevent wildlife from accessing your material. The Green Cart is the only approved container for food waste at the curb and yard waste can either be placed in the Green Cart or in paper yard waste bags for collection.

I’m concerned about attracting wildlife to my property by introducing a new curbside Green Cart, what can I do to prevent this?

Here is a list of steps you can take to prevent encounters with wildlife due to your curbside containers

  • Store your garbage, recycling and Green Cart in the house, garage, shed or bear-resistant enclosure until the morning of collection.
  • Freeze or refrigerate meat, fish, bones and plate scrapings until collection day.
  • Place your garbage, recycling and compostables at the curbside the morning of collection, not the night before.
  • Wrap your food scraps in newspaper or paper bags to reduce odours and to keep your Green Cart clean.
  • Layer food waste and food-soiled paper with yard waste in your Green Cart when possible.
  • Wash your curbside containers with a mild soap or a vinegar and water solution to reduce odours.

I am moving to a another property in Chilliwack; do I take my Green Cart with me?

No, please leave your Green Cart at the property that it was delivered to, you will have the ability to order another cart for free once you reside in your new home.

I live in a multi-unit building; am I going to be part of this curbside compostables diversion program?

Multi-unit buildings are not automatically registered under the City’s curbside program. If you would like to apply to be registered for the program, please call the City’s Engineering Department at 604.793.2907 or click here for more information.

The Fraser Valley Regional District and member municipalities are developing a regional compostables diversion strategy, which would include all sections (residential, commercial, industrial, institutional).

The FVRD is currently conducting a survey to get feedback on how the regional program should be structured. Give your input here.