City of Surrey Composting Resources

Currently, the city of Surrey “strongly supports backyard composting as a great way to divert some organic wastes generated at home”, according to the city website. The City promotes composting through the sale of backyard composters called Earth Machines to Surrey residents at a subsidized cost of $25/each. Earth Machines are great for outdoor use in that they are ventilated and rodent proof.

Chickens looking for worms in the Earth Machine

For many users of the Earth Machine, adding worms can accelerate the composting process. Since they are not designed specifically for worm composting, guidelines for how to use them as worm composters are below.

Different ways to use the municipal Earth Machine:
The Earth Machine can facilitate an active “hot composting” process — if turned frequently, the compost may reach temperatures that are too hot for worms. If large batches of grass clippings are be added, this can also result in hot compost that is inhospitable to worms. People who like to actively turn a compost bin should not add worms to this system.

However most people use their Earth Machines passively, which is worm friendly: adding yard trimmings, leaves, and kitchen scraps to the top of the bin and collecting compost from the bottom. Passively managed bins stay at a moderate temperature that is fine for red wiggler worms. The benefit of adding worms is that they do the turning and aerating for you and create a richer compost. If you do decide to add worms to your Earth Machine, there are a couple of care tips:

If you have questions about using an Earth Machine for composting, contact us.

There are many possible setups for outdoor and indoor composting. For more general information on starting up this and other types of compost bins, go to the Startup Page.

The City of Surrey Rethinks Its Waste

The city of Surrey’s plan to clean up and create a sustainable practice within the area was put into action in 2008. It began when the Surrey Council passed its own sustainability charter to comply with the mandate of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment to set up solid waste management programs in all of British Columbia’s regional districts.

The mandate

Metro Vancouver, which the city of Surrey is part of, aimed to redirect 70% of the regional waste from landfills by 2015. According to the revised Integrated Solid Waste Resource and Management Plan, the key to meeting this target is to find a proper way to divert food and other organic waste. The sustainability charter provided concrete actions and solutions for this goal. It also aims to achieve environmental, social, and economic sustainability within the city.

As of today, the city of Surrey encourages its residents to do backyard composting to divert some organic wastes produced at home. To do this, residents can avail the well-known backyard composting bins called Earth Machines at a subsidized cost of $25 each. Due to its effective ventilation system and great rodent-proof features, Earth Machines can be installed outdoors.

Know more about the efforts the city of Surrey is making to care for the planet through its sustainable waste management here at the Red Wiggler Supply.

Rethinking Waste

Compared to the city’s previous collection service, the Rethink Waste program was proven to be much more successful. This new collection system is efficient and saves the city around $3,000,000 per year. The program was fully carried out on October 1, 2012, after numerous studies and pilot testings have been done around the city.

This is the result of the first phase of the plan to create a full and effective waste management system guided by the following objectives:

  • It must be both economically and environmentally sustainable.
  • Come up with the ideal solution for optimizing the organic wastes produced in homes from landfills and find other uses for these materials.

Within the first three months (October 1 to December 31), the city has seen a 43% drop in the garbage collected and residential waste diversion jumped from 52% to 70%.

Surrey Biofuel Facility

Moving on to the second phase, the planning and designing of an organic waste biofuel processing facility to go hand-in-hand with the diversion and collection process fulfilled by the Rethink Waste program. The whole project was founded on the vision of creating a biogas fuel that can be used by the city’s waste trucks from the collected organic wastes. 

The Surrey Biofuel facility was opened on March 9, 2018. It is currently located in the Port Kells industrial park area of the city. It has been a joint venture between the city council and Orgaworld Canada. The private company was tasked in 2014 to:

  • Create a plan and design for the facility
  • Construct the entire building
  • Finance, maintain and operate the facility

In North America, the Surrey Biofuel Facility is one of the largest and its first ever closed-looped facility. The closed-looped cycle makes use of the thousand tonnes of organic waste collected daily and turns it into high-quality compost and renewable natural gas (RNG). Meaning there’s no waste, or minimal if there is any, left to pollute the landfills. Currently, the converted organic waste is used to fuel the city’s waste collection trucks and operations vehicle fleet, as well as power the city district’s energy system. 

It is estimated that there will be enough clean renewable gas to fuel over 4 times the current number of waste collection trucks per year.

On the other hand, local retailers are tasked to sell the compost and mulch from the organic wastes to a wide range of customers such as farmers and landscapers. Surrey parks, streetscapes and facility landscaping will also make use of the compost and mulch.

The Surrey Biofuel Facility currently processes organic wastes collected from 150,000 households and commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in Surrey. It uses the latest technology to transform organic waste into RNG and high-quality compost. Its state-of-the-art facilities are designed to minimize the negative impact in its environment and surrounding communities.

This project won two awards:

  • Willis Award for Innovation from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators given on May 30, 2018.
  • Envision R Platinum Award was given on March 9, 2018.

The facility is owned by the city of Surrey. It is operated by Convertus, a company resulting from the merging of WTT and Renewi Canada (formerly known as Orgaworld Canada). The Canadian government contributed a total of $16.9 million for this project.

Closed Loop Solution

The ‘closed loop’ solution has been successful because of the cooperation between the city council and its residents. Almost 100% of organic waste collected at the Surrey Biofuel Facility is recovered and converted, then reused – this is what ‘closed-loop’ means.

4 important steps in the closed-loop solution:

  1. Divert
  2. Collect
  3. Transform
  4. Reuse

The City of Surrey’s Waste Collection Guide

The City of Surrey is calling out to all residents in reducing wastes that go to the area’s landfills. To help you achieve this, we are offering our garbage collection services that are easy and accessible. If you partner with us, the waste diversion goal of the city will be a success.

Need to dispose of large, unwanted items in your home?

We will also be providing pick‑up services for 6 large items every year for single-family homes. For houses with registered secondary suites, you will be allotted a total of 8 large items. They are committed to helping you save time and money through this program. 

What you need to do:

  1. Arrange a pickup-schedule by calling them in their main hotline – 604-590-7289. You can also book online.
  2. Place the items on the nearest sidewalk the night before your pickup schedule.

You must always set an appointment before disposing of large items, Failure to do so will result in fines due to illegal dumping. Check the list below for the large items they are accepting:

  • Furniture
  • Large and small appliances
  • Mattresses
  • Boxed household items
  • Electronics
  • Barbeque grills
  • Bicycle
  • Tires
  • Exercise equipment

For more info on schedules of waste collection, you can check out the official website of the city of Surrey.

Instructions on the general use of trash bins

  1. Do not overfill your waste bins or it will not be collected. The lid must be properly closed. 
  2. Make sure to separate your trash properly in the 3 bins they have provided: for organic waste, recyclable waste, and general trash items.
  3. Excess wastes must be well placed next to the bin that it should be part of.

Recycling bins should only include the following:

  1. Paper products such as:
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Phone books
  • Flyers
  • Coffee cups
  • Milk cartons
  • Paper egg trays
  • Ice cream containers
  • Cardboard
  • Paper gift wrapper
  1. Plastic packaging such as:
  • Plastic spray bottles and dispensers
  • Plastic food jars and lids
  • Clean single-use coffee pods
  • Milk jugs
  • Yoghurt cups
  • Coffee lids
  • Plant pots
  • Food trays
  • Pails
  1. Metal packaging items like:
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Tin/aluminium cans and lids
  • Aluminium foil and trays (must be clean)

Organic waste bins should only include:

  • Food Waste
  • Food-Soiled Paper
  • Yard Waste

General trash bins should only include: 

  • Broken toys
  • Broken glassware
  • Diapers and used hygiene products
  • Garden hose
  • Other garbage

Banned and hazardous waste

The items listed below will not be collected by the waste collection service. You can properly dispose of these items through an authorized disposal depot or facility. You can contact the given hotline number on how you can dispose of this type of wastes.

  • Liquids of any kind
  • Dirt, rocks, and sand
  • Gasoline
  • Used motor oil and oil filters
  • Ammunition and explosives
  • Car and alkaline batteries
  • Building and demolition materials
  • Car parts
  • Solvents and paints
  • Pesticides
  • Propane tanks and canisters

Collection hotline

You can call this hotline number for any info and queries regarding the city’s waste collection program: 604-590-7289. Their team is ready to assist you every Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. They do not operate on weekends and holidays. You can call their main hotline if you want to:

  • Inform a missed collection or any service issues
  • Order a new or different-sized garbage bin
  • Report missing or damaged garbage bins

If you have specific questions and requests, you can call these numbers:

  • Large item pick‑up service – 604-590-7289
  • Recycling hotline and household hazardous waste – 604-732-9253
  • Surrey Transfer Station – 604-681-5600
  • Report illegal dumping – 604-591-4152

Rethink Waste App

If you want to receive up-to-date reminders on collection day, you can download the free Rethink Waste mobile app. This app also has a built-in guide to help you dispose of specific items. Children can also learn more about proper disposal and recycling with the Waste Sorting game only available on the app.

Earth Machine

These backyard composters are a great way to reduce your household trash by turning your kitchen waste and yard scraps into useful compost for your garden and plants. The City of Surrey is promoting the use of this machine to divert organic wastes from landfills. You can go to the city’s official website to know how you can buy one at an affordable price.