PORT HAWKESBURY: A local student wants to establish a more environmentally-friendly way of dealing with organic waste in Port Hawkesbury.

Chad Kelly, a second-year Natural Resources and Environmental Technologies student at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) has been working on an applied research project since January to help establish curbside green bin collection within the town.

“I noticed my first year here that there was no curbside composting, and I didn’t know how to backyard compost,” said Kelly. “I’m from Truro and for about 20 years, we’ve been curbside composting, so it’s second nature to me.”

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Like many students and residents, Kelly found himself throwing his organic waste into the trash.

“I thought this was wrong. It creates a lot of greenhouse gases at our landfill sites,” said Kelly. “Since 90 percent of Nova Scotia already has curbside composting, I thought this would be a great initiative.”

As part of his project, Kelly has been researching waste collection procedures in other municipalities such as Truro and Mulgrave, and comparing their relative costs. He has been working with Kara MacEachern, waste management coordinator and educator for the town as well as Port Hawkesbury mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton and Jeff Dee of Eastern Sanitation Limited (ESL) to discuss a collection plan.

“There are a lot of companies out there such as ESL that are willing to work with the town to bring down the upfront costs. There’s also a not-for-profit organization called Divert NS, and basically they give money to smaller towns, municipalities and cities to divert their waste,” said Kelly. “The more waste you divert, the more money comes back into your municipality, which helps lower the costs.”

Another part of the project has been raising awareness. Kelly has travelled door-to-door surveying residents about the potential project, and hosted a public information session at the NSCC’s Green Day event last month.

“The public response has been amazing. I’d been told that there might be a little bit of push back from it, but actually, for over 93 percent of the public that I was able to survey the main question was why isn’t this here yet?” said Kelly.

Kelly said curbside pickup is the easiest, most environmentally friendly way of dealing with organic waste. In addition, composting has economic benefits, like providing a cheaper alternative to commercial fertilizer for local businesses such as landscaping companies.

“If you combine that with your enviro-depots and your curbside collection, we can divert up to 75 percent of the waste in the household,” he said. “It lowers the individual carbon footprint per household and lowers the carbon footprint of the community as a whole.”

Kelly plans to present his research to Port Hawkesbury Town council this week. He said he already has the backing of several councillors and hopes the town will agree to commit to having curbside pickup in place by the end of 2019.

“Port Hawkesbury is about 20 years behind the curve right now. I believe everybody is willing and ready to go and they’re very passionate about it,” said Kelly.