Rot-Pots help district exceed greenhouse gas targets

Compost diversion from landfills will allow Mission to use waste as carbon offsets.

Veteran rotten potter Alejandra Campos dumps organic waste into her bin.

Although the District of Mission won’t become entirely carbon neutral by 2012, the diversion of organic waste has been a big part of reducing its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions according to its environmental services manager.

“We’re actually exceeding our targets,” said Mike Younie.

That’s because the district can use its food waste diversion project — the Rot-Pots which came out this June — as carbon offsets.

According to the 2012 Community Report published by the district on Nov. 3, Mission currently produces around 2,500 tons of GHG emissions and diverts 1,800 tons of compost from landfills. Those numbers are expected to change to 1,250 and 2,400 tons, respectively, by the end of 2011, significantly lowering the environmental impact.

By 2012 it’s expected that Mission’s GHG emissions will drop to 500 tons, an 80 per cent reduction, mainly due to the 3,300 tons of compost being redirected from landfills.

“You’re not generating methane, which is about 20 per cent stronger a GHG gas than just carbon dioxide (CO2). By composting we’re just creating CO2. So it’s a huge credit when you get organics out of the landfill,” said Younie.

Mission has two environmental targets: a corporate target of a 10 per cent reduction of 2008 emissions (2,500 tons) by 2015, and a community target of a 20 per cent reduction of 2008 emissions by 2020, followed by an 80 per cent reduction of 2008 levels by 2050.

The district isn’t directly reducing all its GHG emissions but the waste diversion creates a carbon offset equivalent to a reduction, said Younie. There are several energy efficiency proposals that will come before council in 2012 that Younie says will further lower GHG emissions.

Mission is one of 179 B.C. municipalities signatory to the Climate Action Charter, which has a mandate of carbon neutrality by 2012.

An engineering report that went before council Oct. 17 indicated the only way Mission would meet that target would be to purchase carbon offsets.

“If Mission did nothing to reduce its carbon emissions it would, in theory, be required to buy offsets at a cost of $25,000 to $62,500 per year,” reads the report, which adds nothing has been budgeted for this.

But Younie says the hard target of carbon neutrality has been softened by the province this year, and Mission might not be required to purchase carbon offsets at all. If it does, there has been some flexibility about what types of offsets the district can purchase to keep tax dollars within the municipality, instead of spending them on the provincially-approved Pacific Carbon Trust, added Younie.

“There are cheaper options out there.”

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