About the Service

    What is automatic roadside collection?

    An automated collection truck equipped with a mechanical arm (same as current garbage collection methods) will be used to pick up of standardized, wheeled carts for organics and recycling.

    How do the trucks collect and distribute recycling and organics?

    The City trucks are a 60/40 split compartment vehicles which means they can pick up two streams with the same vehicle. The truck arm picks up one stream and the driver flips a switch that activates the flap of the hopper on the top of the truck that opens the second (if you’re ever driving behind the truck or next time it’s on your streets you can see the two compartments from the back). 

    City trucks always had the capacity to collect two streams and now we're making the most of their design -- if the trucks look new, it's because they've had a facelift with the new Sort'nGo decals!

    Once the trucks reach the landfill, they get emptied into the transfer station bins to be diverted to the appropriate processing facility.


    Why should I divert my organics?

    In the landfill, organic waste is buried under layers of other waste and without access to oxygen, it can not decompose properly creating methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and other harmful environmental issues. 

    Food waste contributes to 30-50 per cent of waste sent to the landfill and uses up a lot of precious landfill space, which is finite.

    If residents of the Alberni Valley take part in diverting organics from the Landfill, we can extend usage by an additional 35 years.

    Landfill space is beneficial for long-term waste management and should only be used for materials that cannot be reused or recycled.

    What is the alternative to a roadside organics collection system?

    If high volumes of organic material continue to enter the landfill, GHG emissions will continue to rise, mandating a gas capture system that will cost Alberni Valley residents millions compared to an organic roadside collection service, which has proved to be a successful diversion strategy and cost-effective solution in many other areas of BC.

    What is the cost of this new service?

    The current costs for garbage collection in the City are approximately $11/month per household. The estimated increase to move to a 3-stream collection (garbage, organics, recycling) is $4/month for a total curbside collection cost of around $15/month.

    Can I opt out of this service?

    This service will be provided to all homes in the City of Port Alberni – and, like garbage and recycling services, opting out is not an option. Implementing an organics program will prevent the ACRD from having to install a pricey gas capture system at the landfill, which would have a significant cost impact on users.

    Diverting organics will also significantly decrease the amount of waste that is going to the landfill – extending it’s life by decades and postponing the high costs of either siting a new landfill or shipping waste out of the community.

    If you already compost in your backyard - We encourage you to continue. However some food waste like meat, fish, poultry, bones and dairy are unsuitable for home composting systems and need to be sent to a composting facility to be properly processed into compost. 

    What if I already compost at home?

    We still encourage you to continue backyard composting, however some food waste like meat, fish, poultry, bones and dairy are unsuitable for home composting systems and need to be sent to a composting facility to be properly processed into compost.

    Yard waste like branches will also be accepted in the new roadside organic collection service which would require chipping prior to composting.

    Will compost collected by the city be available for use?

    Yes, the organics material collected by the City will be composted at the local facility Earth, Land & Sea, and a portion of the finished product will be made available to residents of the Alberni Valley. We’ll share these details when they’re available!

    What efforts is the city undertaking to ensure a bear-smart community?

    The ACRD is part of the WildSafe BC Bear Stewardship Committee. This group looks at addressing challenges and priorities for alike communities with the aim of enhancing coexistence with bears, improving public safety, and decreasing the preventable destructions of bears.

About the Carts

    When are new organics and recycling carts being delivered?

    Carts are being delivered to all single-family homes in Port Alberni between August 23 to September 10. During this time, residents are asked to leave their garbage carts out until 5 pm on their collection day as the crews will be conducting garbage cart maintenance.

    Watch for your cart delivery, which will include a “kitchen buddy” container to transfer organics from inside to your outside cart, as well as a welcome package with details on the service and more. 

    How big are the new carts and how do I use them?

    The standard size for the new organics and recycling carts are 240L (43x24X35in). The City of Port Alberni standard garbage carts are 120L.

    The organics carts will have bear-proof locking mechanisms. Make sure to unclip lock from the cart and hook the clips together, when placing roadside.

    Al items for recycling must fit within the recycling cart, with no overflow or additional items left beside carts as these will not be collected. Leave all items loose in your recycling cart (not stacked or in bags).

    What can and can not go in the green organics cart?

    Dos: 

    • Food scraps, including meat, bones and dairy
    • Coffee grinds
    • Soiled papers like paper towels, cardboard, tissues and greasy pizza boxes
    • Yard waste including grass, leaves, small amounts of fallen fruit, and branches that are no bigger than 24 inches, or two feet, with a two-inch diameter (this is to ensure that material can get through the truck's “hopper” system).

    Don’ts: 

    • Coffee pods
    • Stickers, bits of plastic or rubber bands from produce items
    • Garden tags or plastic accessories from planters/flowers
    • Aluminum foil
    • Pet feces 
    • Compostable or biodegradable plastics (these labels aren't consistently regulated in the industry which means they may not break down as required and could end up contaminating the compost stream)
    • Invasive weeds from yard waste, such as Knotweeds and blackberry bushes. See a full list of noxious weeds on the BC Government website here.

    Pet feces, produce stickers and accessories, coffee pods and invasive weeds should be disposed of in the garbage or at the AV Landfill, all other items can be dropped off at the 3rd Ave Recycling Depot or AV Recycling Depot.

    Do I need a liner for the organics cart?

    You don't need to use a liner, but if you would like to - for either the cart or the smaller 'kitchen buddy' bin that will be provided to each home - you can use paper bags, cardboard or newspaper. Plastic bags - even those labelled compostable - are not allowed in the organics collection system.

    Why can't compostable plastic bags be used as liners in the organics cart?

    We are not currently accepting any plastic - even if labelled compostable - in the green carts. This is because compostable labels aren’t currently regulated; meaning they don’t necessarily break down completely, or at the same rate, or under the same conditions. As a result, their ‘compostability’ varies significantly and they could contaminate the compost. 

    Because microplastic can contaminate our compost stream we must request that any biodegradable or compostable plastic remains out of the green carts. 

    Your green cart CAN be lined with any of the following materials:

    • paper bags
    • Newspaper
    • Cardboard 
    • Cereal boxes

    Watch a video from Green Bin Ottawa on how to make your own newspaper liner for your organics cart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfEX85V9n8w 


    What about composting weeds?

    Invasive weeds from yard waste, such as Knotweeds and blackberry bushes, can not be accepted in the green cart and should be disposed of in the garbage or at the AV Landfill. See a full list of noxious weeds on the BC Government website here

    What about composting pet feces?

    Pet feces should also be disposed of in the garbage and can not be included in the compost carts.

    How can I dispose of excess fruits and veg from the garden/backyard?

    The Alberni Valley Gleaning Project will take your excess fruit and garden vegetables and help distribute healthy food throughout the Alberni Valley.

    If that doesn’t work for your needs, food waste can go in the green organics cart but if you’re choosing to compost these, please make sure the cart is no more than half full of apples/pears and other heavy fruits. There have been challenges with the carts being too heavy for even automated arms to lift.


    What can and can not go in the blue cart?

    Items that go in the blue cart for pickup remain the same: 

    • Mixed paper
    • Cardboard and boxboard
    • Paper packaging that contained liquids
    • Paper beverage cups and lids
    • Tin and aluminum containers or foil
    • Plastic bottles
    • Containers and tubs under 25L
    • Empty aerosol cans

    Don’ts: 

    • Styrofoam 
    • Plastic bags
    • Glass bottles and jars
    • Plastic straws 
    • Squeeze tubes 
    • Books

    Items that don't belong in the blue cart can be dropped off at the 3rd Ave Recycling Depot or AV Landfill Recycling Depot (softcover/hardcover books can be donated to second-hand stores and reuse centres or recycled). 

    Can I get smaller carts?

    We will implement the program with one standard size recycling cart and one standard size organics cart, per home, for the first six months. These carts are 240L (43 X 24 X 35in). The City of Port Alberni standard garbage carts are 120L. 

    Why was this cart size selected?

    We understand that the change in cart sizes will require some adaptation for many.

    The new organics and recycling carts come in one uniform size for all single-family homes in Port Alberni. The size selection is based on waste audits that were done in the community and ensures there is enough room for the average home’s recycling (since all materials will now need to fit inside the cart). Organics cart sizes were selected based on the same audits, which found that 30-50 per cent of what is currently being thrown in the garbage is organic waste and will now be diverted – along with yard waste – to green carts.

     As we roll out the organics collection service, we look forward to further discussions with the community to make this a positive experience for all. This is a critical step required in our community to preserve our landfill space, reduce GHG emissions and avoid other, costly infrastructure upgrades. We will continue to monitor in the coming months and welcome further comment once the program is up and rolling, to see if further options could be suitable.

    I have mobility issues and can't maneuver my cart - what do I do?

    While the carts were sourced specifically to have large wheels and a sturdy base to ensure maneuverability, we understand that some are concerned about their size. 

    If you are concerned about the size for maneuvering, there are a few options for you:

    • Empty carts can be left near the roadside, and you can continue to use your current containers or something smaller near your home – and then transfer to the carts on collection day.
    • The City does offer a set out service for those who living with a temporary or permanent disability, you can learn more here: https://www.portalberni.ca/frequently-asked-questions
    • For people with mobility issues or for elderly seniors living on their own, please call 250-720-2700 to be added to a list requesting a smaller size. Please note, these are limited in amount and will be distributed only if deemed necessary.

About the New Schedule

    Are there changes to the collection schedule?

    Yes, garbage and recycling will be collected every two weeks, on alternating weeks, instead of weekly, with organics pick-up every week. That means each week two carts will be wheeled roadside: either organics and garbage or organics and recycling.

    Garbage collection can be reduced because waste composition studies show that up to 50 per cent of household waste is organic or compostable. Once these items are diverted, carts will take longer to fill. 

    When will the new service roll out?

    The new service is slated to begin for all single-family homes within the City of Port Alberni the week of September 13th.

    How Can I Stay Updated?

    The Sort’nGo ACRD app for Androids and iPhones offers an easy and quick search tool to learn what items go in which carts, and where to take items that can’t be collected curbside. You can also set up collection alerts, track schedules and play an online sorting game for prizes. Download from the Apple Store or Google Play.

    A desktop version of the app is available for use as well: https://api.recollect.net/r/area/ACRD

    We also encourage you to subscribe for updates on this page and check back here as we'll continue to post news and updates as the service rolls out in the coming months.