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Corridor composting facility to open next month

As part of its attempt to build a composting customer base, Carney's Waste Systems treated a bunch of local business people to breakfast.

As part of its attempt to build a composting customer base, Carney's Waste Systems treated a bunch of local business people to breakfast.

The menu included foods that produce waste appropriate for the composting machine about to be put into production in the Squamish Business Park.

Coffee, tea and fruit were served to those at the meeting held at the Howe Sound Inn. Coffee grounds, used tea bags and fruit rinds are all products that, when the system is running, will go into the composting system and be turned into topsoil.

Carney's has all the necessary approvals and is currently completing its composting centre on Queens Way. The company also has 18 customers in Whistler already in a composting program that produces 50 tonnes of organic waste a month.

The organics currently being collected are gathered from restaurants and hotels in the resort. The largest participant in the program is the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Hotel manager Stephen Bowack said his hotel's annual waste disposal costs decreased between 1999 and 2003.

His hotel decided to start sorting waste and separating organics because his company puts a high value on the environment and because waste tipping fees at the landfill in Whistler increased.

"We needed to reduce waste," Bowack told the gathering of Squamish business leaders.

Carneys hopes that businesses in Squamish and Whistler that create organic waste will separate their compostable waste into special totes and pay the waste management company to come regularly and take the material away.

Once Carney's picks up the waste, the material will be dumped into a high-tech composter and converted into what Owen Carney calls "a very high nutrient, very high quality top soil." The top soil will be sold by Carney's to gardeners.

"We're totally cutting edge," said Denise Imbeau of Carney's. "We're the first in Canada. With the Wright system there are three in North America. We are going to develop a whole lot of new technology."

The composting system being used by Carney's was developed by entrepreneurs who live in Powell River. The creators guarantee that the system does not produce noticeable odours and dangerous liquids do not leak out of the system.

Initially, the waste company wants to concentrate on establishing a strong commercial collection program. From there, Imbeau envisions possibly offering a public collection system where residents put out traditional garbage cans for pick up one week and the next week residents put out a special composting tote.

Once the composter is up and running, residents will be able to help feed the composter's never-ending need for waste.

"People can come in with their pickup truck or whatever and drop off their organics or yard waste," Carney said.

There will be a flat fee to leave material at the centre. Pat Taylor of Carney's said the fee isn't set yet but it will be less expensive than taking the organics to the landfill.

According to Carney, most of the material that will go into the system from Squamish will be wood waste. Biosolids produced by the local sewage treatment plant will also be processed by the composter.

"This will help the community break through the solid waste barrier and turn waste into a resource," said David Allen of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. Allen added that Squamish is going to further reduce the amount of material going to the landfill and reduce the amount of methane gas produced at the dump.

Carney's is encouraging restaurants, hotels and other commercial operators producing organic waste to consider contracting the waste management company to help create an in-house composting system and then set a regular pickup schedule.

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